PODCAST: The Problems with the Book LIes Young Women Believe

by | Jun 20, 2024 | Parenting Teens, Podcasts | 39 comments

Lies Young Women Believe podcast

Lies Young Women Believe is a dangerous book to use in teen girls’ book studies.

Yet it is still frequently used!

Last season we took a look at Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s book Lies Women Believe, and showed how it was harmful. Many people then asked us to tackle Lies Young Women Believe, co-written with Dannah Gresh, author of Secret Keeper Girl (who called 8-year-old girls’ bellies “intoxicating”.) So many told us that their church was using it with their teen girls, and they wanted something to show them why it was wrong.

We have written a one-sheet detailing all the problems objectively (you can download it by entering your email address in the box below), and then we recorded this podcast where we spent a lot of time in incredulity with how toxic so much of the advice is about mental health, dating, abuse, and more.

Yes, they did tell girls whose fathers were pedophiles that they had to make the first move towards restoring the forgiveness, overlooking their fathers’ “human frailties.”

I know this is a long one, but if you listen to nothing else, please hear what they say about abuse and submission to authority, starting around 1:14:00 to the end. Please. We simply can’t be giving teen girls this message.

In the podcast we said that yesterday we ran our post of our one-sheet, but we didn’t end up doing so. We’ve been sick this week and the new baby is down, so it’s been hectic. It’s going up tomorrow, but you can download it now in the box below!

Lies Young Women Believe

One Sheet

Everything Harmful with Lies Young Women Believe Summarized on One Sheet!

Subscribe today to get the free printout to share with your friends, family, and pastors

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:

Timeline of the Podcast

5:04 Why is this book about Satan and not Jesus?
19:38 A strange view of needing to be glad you’re suffering
28:47 When the “lies” you believe aren’t lies
36:15 All about Purity Culture
42:22 How does the book encourage Religious Scrupulosity?
57:07 Internalized misogyny
1:04:05 The treatment of Mental health
1:14:40 The terrible treatment of Abuse
1:37:30 Final thoughts

Lies Young Women Believe is more of the same harmful advice we’ve been talking about.

It reinforces purity culture and negative views of women; it reinforces male hierarchy; it ignores consent and has terrible takes on abuse. It calls mental health a belief issue.

But it goes farther than that, giving  a picture of an aloof God who is angry at you if your emotions aren’t just right.

Instead of being told, “God loves you and is with you and wants to comfort you in your troubles,” girls are told, “what’s wrong that you don’t believe that God is with you and wants to comfort you? If you don’t believe that, you’ll give Satan a foothold!”

I hope you see the difference.

And while the take on abuse is abhorrent, one of the worst parts of this, that I haven’t seen as much in other books (which makes this one uniquely bad) is the way that it promotes religious scrupulosity, or anxiety and compulsive tendencies in order to appease God. 

I know people want to do book studies with teen girls, and that’s great. But, please, this book shouldn’t be it. Our daughters deserve better than this kind of picture of God.

Thanks to our Sponsor: The Sex Talk You Never Got

I’m so glad that men are joining our fight to change the evangelical conversation about sex!

In The Sex Talk You Never Got, Sam Jolman lays bare the absolutely shallow view of male sexuality that is so often portrayed in evangelical books, and shows how to reclaim it for something good–something that honors the dignity in women and men, while helping engage with our passions and worship of God.

It’s an amazing way to reframe male sexuality, and I highly recommend it!

Things Mentioned in the Podcast

Get our Downloadable One Sheet of the problems with the book Lies Young Women Believe:

Thanks to our sponsor, the book The Sex Talk You Never Got by Sam Jolman 

And listen to our interview with Sam about the book

To Support Us: 

Things Mentioned in this Podcast:

About Johnna Harris

Lies Young Women Believe

One Sheet

Everything Harmful with Lies Young Women Believe Summarized on One Sheet!

Subscribe today to get the free printout to share with your friends, family, and pastors

What do you think of their treatment of God? Of abuse? How do we get people to stop using this book? Let us know in the comments below!


Sheila: Welcome to the Bare Marriage podcast.  I’m Sheila Wray Gregoire where we like to talk about healthy, evidence, biblical—what is it?

Rebecca: Healthy, evidence-based, biblical advice.

Sheila: For your sex life and your marriage.  

Rebecca: *inaudible* for marriage, sex.

Sheila: And I am joined today by my daughter, Rebecca Lindenbach.

Rebecca: Hello.

Sheila: And we have an amazing podcast for you today.  It’s a long one.  Okay? 

Rebecca: It is a long one.

Sheila: So go get a cup of tea, or go out for a run.  Do something.  Just get prepared because this is a long one.  But we have been asked to do the book, Lies Young Women Believe, and in detail.  

Rebecca: So many times.

Sheila: And I originally said no because we did Lies Women Believe last season written by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.  And we talked about all the problems.  I actually did it on two different podcasts.  I had Gretchen Baskerville and Natalie Hoffman on to talk about it from the perspective of abuse.  I had other people on to talk about—Becky Castle Miller and Helen—oh gosh.  I’m forgetting Helen’s last name.  But anyway, I had—we did another podcast.  And I’m like okay.  We’ve talked about this a lot.  But people said, “Yes.  But in our youth group, they’re using Lies Young Women Believe, and I don’t know what to say to stop them.”  And so while normally I wouldn’t do something twice like this, there’s actually quite different issues in the book to teenagers.  

Rebecca: Absolutely.  

Sheila: We reviewed it for our book, She Deserves Better.  And so I have no read it in depth twice.  So feel sorry for me.  But we want to go over all of the problems.  And yesterday on the blog, I posted our one sheet download of Lies Young Women Believe.  You can get it.  The link is in the podcast notes.  And then you can give it to your youth group leader, to your small group leaders, to moms in your homeschooling group, anyone who might be going through this book to show them why this is a dangerous, harmful book, and you should not use it for teenage girls.  So we’re going to talk about that in just a minute.  Before we do, of course, we just want to give out a shout out and a thank you to the people who support us especially the members of our community on Facebook, our patron community.

Rebecca: Many of whom were the multitude of voices telling us we had to do this one.

Sheila: I know.  I think it was our patron group that really pushed us to do this, and we’re like, okay, if enough people think it’s important.  So our patron group is wonderful.  It’s just a great, safe place on the Internet for a lot of people who support what we’re doing and are on this journey themselves.  And you can join us for as little as $5 a month.  It’s not expensive.  And you can support us for a lot.  If you want a tax receipt in the United States, you can also give through the Good Fruit Faith Initiative of the Bosco Foundation, and the links to both of those things to join up to our patron or to donate some money for our research—we have a bunch of research projects going on, a bunch of different papers we’re working on, and a bunch of different initiatives for pastor training that we’re doing right now.  So if you would like to support that to get the word out, you can find those links in the podcast notes.  

Rebecca: Now before we get into the actual interview, a quick thing for anyone—because I know people are probably going to share this podcast with people who are doing Lies Young Women Believe.  You might be wondering, “Okay.  But who are these people, and why do I care what they think?”  We actually are a group of researchers, who have done two—three large studies on the effects of evangelical beliefs on people’s marriage, on their sex lives, on their self-esteem, on all sorts of different markers, okay?  Our most recent book is called She Deserves Better.  It’s up here behind me for anyone who is watching on YouTube.  And it specifically measured how common evangelical teachings affect girls in terms of their self-esteem, in terms of their rates of marrying an abuser, in terms of all sorts of long-term health outcomes.  And the results were really shocking.  And Lies Young Women Believe is one of the books that we looked at our research and found was really, really harmful.  A lot of its beliefs.  So we’re going to kind of jump right into what those harmful beliefs were, so if you’re wondering why we kind of go off the jump, that’s why.  We’ve already done the research.  The research has shown it’s not great.  And if you want to know more, we also highly recommend you check out She Deserves Better because there’s a lot of stuff in there about what we can do right instead.

Sheila: Yeah.  Exactly.  Because we don’t just want to point out all the problems, we want to help solve them.  And that’s what She Deserves Better is for.  So if you want to do a great study with your kids, with your daughters, turn to She Deserves Better, not Lies Young Women Believe.  Okay.

Rebecca: And now let’s go to talk to Johnna about why.

Sheila: Yes.  Well, are you ready, people?  We have invited our good friend, Johnna Harris, who is the one of the cohosts of Bodies Behind the Bus podcast, which looks into some of the spiritual abuse in the Acts 29 network and what we can do about it.  And we have invited her on to read the book Lies Young Women Believe with us.  So, Johnna, thanks for taking one for the team and being here.

Johnna: Thank you so much for having me.  I was just telling them that they are the only people that could get me to read a book like this.  So happy to be here though.

Sheila: All right.  So this book is set up for teenage girls written by Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth and Dannah Gresh.  Both of them together.  And it’s supposed to help girls get a good faith in Jesus supposedly.  But before we talk about Jesus, let’s talk about Satan.

Rebecca: Yeah.  That’s always what you want to hear.

Johnna: Why not?

Sheila: Because this book is all about Satan.  It focuses on Satan.  Girls, the whole reason that you’re not supposed to believe lies is because Satan can get a foothold.  And the whole opening of the book is freaky.  I don’t understand what they’re trying to do because it opens with this woman, who has panic attacks and felt paralyzed with fear, waking up with nightmares since her teen years after her dad left.  And their answer to these nightmares is to stop believing lies and then everything will be fine.  But I read her story, and I think, “You need trauma counseling, hon.”

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.

Johnna: Yeah.  I definitely found reading this book I felt really sad a lot of it because imagining—well, even as an adult reading this book, I just felt a lot of anxiety, a lot of shame, a lot of needing to keep up with these imaginary checklists it kind of felt like in order to be seen as right with God or in order to keep yourself protected from some of these really scary things.  And that’s just a lot of pressure, a lot of pressure.  So imagining teen girls reading this made me really sad.

Sheila: I know.  Because you got to understand, people, the whole opening chapter is about how Satan is out to get you, how you are in a burning house, and you’re going to die.  And you are being attacked over and over and over again and how Satan desperately wants to get a foothold, and he is making plans on how to bring you down.  And you are under attack, and the only way around it is to fight back and stop believing lies.  They say, “It will take nothing less than straight up truth to rescue you from the Deceiver.  The spiritual attack on your generation is intense.”  And it jumps right to suicide.  Telling girls that there are evil influences that are—

Johnna: It’s not funny, but it’s just really intense.

Sheila: I know.  There is nothing about how God loves you and wants to protect you.  

Rebecca: There’s also nothing about Jesus saying, “My yoke is easy.  My burden is light,” or saying, “Do not fear for I have overcome the world,” right?  There’s nothing like that.  It shows this picture of Jesus holding back Satan like an 85-pound ten year old holding back a 200-pound pit bull where it’s like, “I got him.  I got him.”  But you breathe the wrong way, and he’s going to get you.  It’s like no.  Jesus isn’t barely holding back Satan.  He defeated Satan, right?  It’s just a very different picture.

Johnna: It’s like the life time skits.  Or it’s not life time.  It’s Lighthouse, right?  Do you guys remember those skits?  They were really big.

Rebecca: Yes.  I remember.

Johnna: And the Jesus character in the skit would be holding back the demons and stuff, but you have to imagine that skit.  But it’s a toddler is Jesus in this book.  It’s grown men are representing the evils.

Sheila: Yeah.  I remember because I’m older than both of you.  But the Saturday Night Live church lady skits about Satan.  And she’s just always talking about Satan, and this book is talking about Satan all the time.  I don’t think it mentions Jesus until page—almost page 40.  It’s all about Satan.  And when we wrote She Deserves Better, I was the one who had to read this.  Yeah.  So I spent a weekend reading all these books written to teen girls.  And we actually counted Satan—the word Satan is mentioned more than the word Jesus in this book.  

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.  Yeah.  Which says something.

Johnna: That tracks.

Rebecca: What I find so interesting is that this is supposed to be about girls’ faith.  It’s not heralded as a book about resisting demonic influence, which is a subpart of evangelical culture.  This is just the general faith.  So your general faith is about Satan at least as much as it is about Jesus.  So it’s not about running towards Jesus.  It’s about running away from Satan.  And that’s just a very different type of faith.

Sheila: Yeah.  And so they set this all up.  Remember, girls, Satan is trying to devour you.  He’s going to burn your house down.  He’s going to try to make you commit suicide.  He’s going to try to do all of these things to you.  They set this all up as the only way to fight against Satan is to stop believing lies.  And so these are all the lies that they then share in the book.  

Rebecca: Now we’ll say we fully believe that believing in lies can be harmful.  Absolutely.  Literally, we found that.  The issue is we are not over here saying all that other stuff.  We always want to ask what’s the grain of truth, okay?  When we believe things that are wrong, it can wreak havoc on our mental health.  It can wreck havoc on our personal lives, on our relationships, on every aspect of our life.  That’s why so many therapies have dialectical behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, family systems therapy.  Every type of therapy.  You’re going to have to be identifying what you believe, right?  What are your core beliefs about the world?  Do you feel safe?  All these certain things.  So absolutely.  What you believe matters.  Believing in lies is a problem.  The problem is that the answer isn’t to try to traumatize kids in order that they stop acting traumatized.  And that’s where it gets really weird.  So it’s just the idea that stop believing lies.  Okay.  But are we threatening?  Are we further traumatizing?  Are we also asking them to not believe things that are objectively true?  That aren’t even lies.  What are they defining as lies?  And why are we making it sound like a part of the Left Behind movie franchise series that traumatized everyone in the nineties?  Or eighties?  I don’t even know.  I wasn’t around at that point, but I know it was traumatizing.

Sheila: When you read this, Johnna, and you read all the stuff about the Adam and Eve story where they talk about how Eve was especially targeted for deception and they attribute all kinds of motivations to Eve that are not biblical.  There’s nothing in the story that actually says that.  That she felt entitled or—all kinds of stuff that is not evident in the text.  What were you thinking?

Johnna: I mean I think the first thing that actually popped out to me about them when they introduce Eve to the book was that she was specifically created for—they put a lot of emphasis on what she was created for and it was all for man in the way that it was presented.  And I actually got really stuck on that.  Whoa.  So if you’re a young girl or a woman reading—or a man reading this book and this is the way that you view women from the beginning is they were created specifically for men, not as image bearers of God that come as a fully human person that is there just as much as a dude is to bring glory to God and to exist in that beauty and in relationship with God, that is where I got really stuck.  But the rest of it—I mean honestly it reads—I’m not trying to be mean at all, but it reads like a really scared, really churchy mom of teenagers that’s really fearful of the whole world and is going to use fear or shame to control her kids is the way that it reads to me.  There’s that mom love in it too where you’re like you can see that there’s love here.  But when you’re that Eve, just like from the beginning of creation, it feels like this warped view of who woman is and who you are as a girl.  And that’s really sad.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  I think that impacted the whole thrust of the book because, again, this book is not about how God loves you.  God wants to comfort you.  God wants to be your peace.  God wants to be there for you.  God is there for you.  God is everywhere.  You can relax in Him.  It’s like if you don’t believe God is your peace, you’re in trouble.  

Rebecca: Why aren’t you peaceful?  Why aren’t you peaceful?  Are you believing lies?  You should be peaceful.

Johnna: And you’re predisposed to wanting to usurp authority and be—doesn’t it say—am I misquoting this?  But doesn’t it say something like—with the women being specifically targeted that through our lives we are more susceptible to deception?  Women are.  And that’s why—or is that just something I took away from the book?

Sheila: I think you took it away.  It’s hard to find one quote that says it, but that’s definitely the way—because I—we were dealing with this when we wrote She Deserves Better is they definitely gave that impression.  That it was Eve that was targeted for deception.  And so we need to realize that Eve was targeted.

Rebecca: And they won’t finish the thought.  They’ll say, “Eve was targeted.  Adam wasn’t targeted.  Eve was, and we all know why.”  Anyway, moving on.  Wait, what’s the why?  You know.  It’s because it was Eve.

Johnna: Well, isn’t that interesting that I’m trying to parse through if there was a specific quote or if I just walked away from reading this thinking that.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Because people do.  But interestingly, we looked at this for She Deserves Better.  I looked at a bunch of peer reviewed research.  Women are not more susceptible to deception.  They’re actually less susceptible.  Women are less likely to get taken in by financial deception.  They are more likely to believe—if they go to church, they’re more likely to believe the creedal assertions.  We’re more likely to be orthodox than men are.  We’re more likely to practice spiritual disciplines.  The difference is people believe women are more deceptive, and so they tend to target women for deception more.  We are more likely to be victims where people try to scam us, in other words.  But we actually are less likely to be deceived or believe weird things than men.  So it’s just simply not true.  It is not true.  Yeah.  So, again, that’s all in She Deserves Better.  But the approach of the book is very much be careful you’re—that you’re not believing a lie, or else you’re opening yourself up to the Deceiver.  And you’re opening yourself up to destruction.  It’s not that Jesus is with you when you’re hurting.  Okay?

Rebecca: Or that there’s a truth that’s good that you should run towards necessarily.  There’s just all these scary, bad things.

Sheila: Yeah.  So here’s an example.  They’re chastising a girl, who is upset because her parents are divorcing.  All right?  So she’s really in turmoil.  And she says, “That if only her parents stay together that would be enough for her.”  And so their approach to this is to say to her, “Well, you are believing a lie.  That God is not enough for you.”  So here’s a girl whose parents are divorcing.  And she’s just—I mean that is one of the most destructive things that can happen to you as a child.  Again, this does not mean that, if you’re in an abusive relationship, that you should stay.  When you leave an abusive relationship, your kids actually tend to do better than if you had stayed.  That’s what research tells us.  But divorce is really traumatic for children.  And to tell a child not, “Hey, this isn’t your fault. God loves you.  He’s going to be there for you.  I know it feels like your whole world is falling apart.  But God understands.”

Rebecca: Well, even that God is able to handle your anger, your disappointment, all these things.  God is not mad at you that you’re mad at Him.  He understands how much you’re hurting.  Nothing like that.

Sheila: No.  It’s just, “You believe the lie that God isn’t enough, and now you are opening yourself up to the Deceiver.” 

Johnna: Yeah.  It’s your fault you’re hurting right now.

Sheila: Yeah.  Wow.  And this is why we want to do this podcast because there are people who are leading this study in their churches, and you need to understand how that comes across to girls because they’re looking up to you as a youth leader.  They want to—most teenage girls, who go to church, want to love Jesus and follow after Jesus.  And if this is the Jesus they’re being shown, that’s awful.    

Johnna: At one point in the book, they talk about—I think it’s one of the lies that they list being that girls feel judged if they talk about the things they’re struggling with at church.  And I think it was one of their surveys or something like that that they did.  But what?  Of course, they do if that’s the response.  If you’re going to small group and you say, “I’m really hurting and struggling with the fact that my parents are getting a divorce.  And it feels like everything would just be fine if they would just stay together,” and the response is, “Well, God’s enough.  And you’re believing lies.  So you really wouldn’t actually even feel sad if you trusted in God enough.  So this is actually a you issue, and an opportunity for us to dig through your heart issues and your sin issues.”  I’m sorry.  I am never speaking up at small group again.  

Rebecca: We don’t judge you.  We don’t judge you.  It’s not judging to say that you’re a failure.  You’re just a failure.  We’re not judging. 

Johnna: No judgment here, you little worm.

Rebecca: You’re so silly.  And also you’re believing a lie by feeling judged when you’re here.  That’s also a lie.  So that’s two points of failure.  And, remember, that’s not judgment.  That’s just truth.  It’s ridiculous. 

Johnna: Just next level gas lighting.  Truly.

Sheila: It really is.  And their approach to suffering is bizarre.  Because instead of the message that God is with you in your suffering, the message is God deliberately uses suffering in your life to shape you and to bring good things out of it.  And this part actually makes me really sad.  But Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s husband—or father.  I’m sorry.  Her father died at the—when she was 21.  Suddenly.  Of a heart attack.  And she was very close to her father, and you can just imagine how devastating that would be.  But the way that she describes this in both Lies Women Believe and Lies Young Women Believe is that God did this deliberately, that He made a plan to kill her father, and that she said that it was good.  She had to say that this is good that her dad died because everything God does is good.  And so grieving her father’s death would somehow be wrong because she had to rejoice in the good things that God was doing while her dad just died.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Yeah.  I think that often what happens is we want to protect each other from really big scary things, right?  Like you were saying Johnna.  You can feel the mother’s heart in this book of the fear that their daughter will suffer.  And there is this level where—and this is not a new problem, okay?  Gnosticism and stoicism have also had mentalities like this where, as long as you don’t care about anything, you can’t get hurt.  Right?  So there were actually whole religious cults where you’d get people to look at their child and slap their child across the face until they didn’t feel anything anymore back in the hundreds—not even in 1400.  Like in 400 or something.  We studied this when I was doing my late antiquity history course in university.  But they do those kinds of things.  Or say to your spouse, “I don’t need you.  I don’t love you,” until you didn’t feel anything anymore, right?  And then you’d be a spiritually elevated being, and then you just go back home.  And you pretend nothing happened, right?  And that has been a natural bend, I think, of the human heart is to avoid pain.  And one of the ways to avoid pain is to shut down feeling.  And the thing that happens when you do that is you also shut out people.  You shut out yourself.  And you live this very muted life, and I think that a lot of people end up walking around with really severe depression without even realizing it all the time because they just stop feeling things.  And that’s not healthy.  So it’s like yeah.  You can congratulate yourself for being able to get through your parent’s divorce without feeling a single thing because I just trusted God.  It’s like did you though because Jesus wept.  Jesus wept.  So if you’re not letting yourself experience those emotions, that’s not necessarily a sign of trusting God as much as maybe not trusting Him to be able to cope with those emotions.  Is that really a sign that you trust God?  Or is that a sign that you don’t trust Him enough to give Him those big things and think He’s still going to be there, right?  That’s what I think anyway when I read this stuff.

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  The whole thing about God being enough.  I used to give this talk at a women’s conference.  We’re talking 10, 15 years ago.  And that was a big part of my story when my son died is realizing that no matter what happened God would be enough for me, but it wasn’t—and as I read this, I was like, “Was that the message I was giving?”  And I do kind of feel worried that I did.  Rebecca is shaking her head now for those watching—listening instead of watching.

Rebecca: You didn’t.

Sheila: But I was more coming from it as God understood.  And God was always going to be there.  It wasn’t God is mad at me for being sad my son died.  

Rebecca: And it was never God did this to me so that I could learn that He’s enough.  Never.  Yeah.    

Sheila: Yeah.

Johnna: It’s so wrapped up in, honestly, just western evangelicalism as an American.  I know you guys are Canadian.  But in America, I think we’re really—we’ve been needing to reckon with this since the beginning, but we’re really starting to see it get reckoned with publically now is this lack of understanding how to lament or how to rightly look in the eyes hard things.  We want to spend time with that and have the tools to look those things in the eye.  And I think especially—I mean we can see it really plainly with the deep rooted systemic racism in America and our lack of ability, in many parts and communities in America, to even be like, “Hey, the Confederate flag—maybe not a good idea to fly that.”  That is all rooted in this same ideology, which is we push past the hard.  We pretend like we don’t care about that, and we just move on.  You put up all the—all the boundaries.  You control all the things.  And if we mess up, then that’s your problem.  You can’t feel anything about it, if we mess up.  And we just move on, and we don’t actually reckon with or lament all of these really hard things.  And we see that big scale in things like systemic racism in America.  We see that small scale, which it’s still really big in the people’s lives, in abuse that happens in church or in homes, family systems where we’re seeing somebody that’s had a really horribly abusive parent that is told, “We don’t talk about that, and you need to look at only the good things.  And you move on.  And you should trust God enough that He could heal that or that there’s enough grace to cover that,” and you just move on.  Well, it’s not actually helping anything.  And that’s not actually who we see Jesus to be in the Bible.  That’s not how He does ministry.  He looks those hard things in the eyes.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And even not in abuse spaces too, right?  Just like your good old anxiety where it’s like, “Oh, just remember that Jesus says not to worry.  And then you’ll be okay,” right?  And move along.  Don’t think.  Don’t feel, right?  And we also deal with it with chronic illness and everything where we don’t let people be sad.  We have to have everyone be happy all the time, and it’s something where it’s tempting.  And I understand why, but it does hinder our ability to actually know each other and to actually share ourselves with each other too.      

Sheila: Yeah.  I know I’ve shared this before, but I’m going to say it again.  When you guys were really small, you and Katie, in those days we had VHS videos.  And I had one of a guy called The Donut Man.  And he sang the song, If You’re Happy and You Know It.  And it went like this, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.  If you’re happy and you know it, stomp your feet.  If you’re happy and you know it, shout amen.”  And everything was if you’re happy and you know it.  And then we went to this play group at a local school.  And they sang it, “If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.  If you’re angry and you know it, stomp your feet.  If you’re sad and you know it, cry boo-hoo.  If you’re excited and you know it, shout hurray.”  And I never knew that we were allowed to have other emotions.  The light bulb went off, and I’m like oh yeah. This is good.  I should be teaching my kids to have other emotions.  But very much we are told you are not allowed to acknowledge suffering, right?  They say this.  Here’s a quote from the book.  “To demand that God provide a solution or an escape from that impossible situation may cause us to forfeit a higher good that He is seeking to bring about in our lives.”  So no matter bad things are you need to not ask God for an escape or a solution.  You need to realize He is bringing something even better out in your life because of the suffering that He planned.

Rebecca: This would have been really good to have back in Jesus’ time because Jesus made a mistake, and He asked, “Let this cup be taken from me.”  And that was bad of Jesus.  Bad Jesus.  And also the psalmist, David, too, right?  Deliver me.  All those deliverance prayers.  Help me defeat my enemies.  All those different things that he said when he was being run around by Saul and everything.  David shouldn’t have prayed for deliverance, right?  He should have just said—just always been happy.  Just don’t think.  Just don’t feel.  Don’t think.  Just do platitudes.  That’s it.  But really Jesus should have known better, right?  I’m being sarcastic, to be clear.

Sheila: This is important because what Becca is pointing out is that there is so much Scripture that goes against what they are saying in this book.  And so just because they have a ton of Bible verses does not mean that this book actually tells the story of the Bible or is line with the scope of the Bible.  Let alone with the heart of Jesus because remember.  It mentions Satan more than Jesus.  And it really doesn’t deal with Jesus that much.  This book is just sort of presenting a view of religion, which is quite common, but it proof texting from the Bible and not telling the whole story.  Okay.  Another funny thing that they do.  I want to move on for a minute here.  

Rebecca: Okay.  Sorry. 

Sheila: Is they conflate a lot of things as lies that aren’t lies.  So they’re telling a girl—and they bring this one up repeatedly.  It’s a theme throughout the book.  Is that you’re not allowed to say, “I don’t have any friends,” because that’s a lie.

Rebecca: As someone who has shared before that I was a homeschooled, eleven year old, who carried my rock collection in what I called my Aladdin pants because they were ballooning white cargo pants made out of a thick T-shirt material.  Not even a good, solid weave.  I’m explaining that to say that these rocks made it hang in weird ways because it had stretched.  Okay?  It was a bad time.

Johnna: I thought you were going to say the rocks were your friends.

Rebecca: No.  The rocks weren’t my friends.  The rocks were to help me make friends, Johnna.  Keep up.  No.  So I can say very definitively there was a point where I had exactly two friends.  One of whom I never saw.  And the other of whom I also never saw as a result of—  

Sheila: Who are you talking about?

Rebecca: Oh, Theresa and Emily.  Because there was that point where Emily and I never saw each other for a long time.  And then Theresa was just busy with her school and everything, so we rarely saw each other.  But I had two friends, right?  And I loved them very much.  But I was very right in feeling that I did not have enough friends.  I needed more friends.  Now, again, I got rid of the Aladdin pants, and I kept the rock collection at home.  And I only brought the pretty purple one.  So it’s fine.  We learn some.  If I had been told, “No.  You’re lying.  You have friends,” okay.  But you get what I mean though, right?  It feels like being on the Internet and saying something and having somebody be like, “Well, actually.”  And it’s like okay.  Yes.  Technically speaking, you are correct.  But you understand the larger implication of what I’m saying, right?  Saying I haven’t slept in four days.  Well, technically, newborns do sleep for 18 hours, so you must have slept sometime.  Okay.  You get what I’m saying though (cross talk) newborn.  Right?  I haven’t slept in four days.  That does not mean that I have not closed my eyes.  It means that I haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep.  You understand.  You’re just being precocious.  And I feel this book is just being precocious.

Sheila: Yeah.  And then their response to the person, who has no friends, is to say that if you crave a friendship it means that you don’t realize that God is the best friend you will ever have.

Rebecca: I needed to be told to leave the rocks at home.  God loved me and my rocks.  God made the rocks.  But I also—it was—

Sheila: Rebecca believes that I loved her too much.  

Rebecca: She did.

Sheila: Because I just was like, “You’re just the best person in the world,” when she was eleven.

Johnna: Those rocks are so cool.

Rebecca: How much you know about rocks.  And you loved my outfits because I dressed like someone from the eighties or nineties or something.  (cross talk) Anyway, all I’m saying is that—yes.  When I was lonely and in junior high, I absolutely did write a lot in my journals.  I wrote a lot of prayers to God, and that helped me feel less alone.  There is a sense of truth.  When you feel lonely, you can turn to God.  That’s fine.  That’s good.   I plan to tell my children that someday.  What I don’t plan to tell them is, well, if you loved God more, you wouldn’t want friends.  That’s not what we’re telling them.  Also it’s like okay.  So you don’t have any friends.  Maybe, maybe we try doing what other kids want to do.  Maybe we learn social skills.  Right?  That’s much more helpful.  

Sheila: What did you think of all of—they talked about relationships a lot.

Johnna: Yeah.  Again, is like—oh wait.  There’s a hard emotion.  Instead of working through that, we’re going to just say that’s a lie and move past it and gloss over it with God should be enough again and move forward.  It’s easier.  I’ll give them that.  It truly is easier to put things in those boxes, but it’s just not how humans were created.  We aren’t parsed into these boxes.  They all flow into each other.  So, again, it’s just tamping down appropriate emotions.  And instead of giving us tools, how to work through those, it’s just pretend that’s not happening there and trust God.

Sheila: Yeah.  And I want to say too.  Becca can speak to this more than I can.  But friendships in your teenage years are more important than at any other time in your life, aren’t they?  Friendships are really important for teens.

Rebecca: They’re more influential, and they’re quite important.  Yeah.  Sorry.  I got a little on my pedantic psychology hat on where it’s like I don’t know if I can say most important because—okay.  No.  For all intents and purposes, I don’t want to be the guy on the Internet saying, “Well, actually,”—yes.  You’re right.  

Johnna: Yeah.  I mean it’s got to be really pivotal in shaping your worldview, right?  And how you exist in the world and how you experience—it’s—I mean it—I know for probably all of us, to a degree, it’s shaped how we exist as adults.  Socially and insecurities.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And in the teenage years, you’re starting to separate from your parents.  And so you need a peer group that isn’t just your parents.  And this is your chance to kind of figure out who you are.  And, obviously, we want our kids to have good friends.  We want them to make good choices.  And I’m not against those messages.  But this message that if you are lonely, it’s because you’re believing a lie that you don’t have enough in God.  I mean God, Himself, said it isn’t good for people to be alone, right?

Rebecca: And the big thing too is it’s not just—yes.  You want your kids’ main core friend group to be a good group of friends.  And don’t sacrifice your—don’t allow yourself to become a different person so that you can attract friendships with people who, frankly, aren’t going to be good friends anyway.  That kind of message is fine where it’s like stick by your convictions.  All that stuff is good.  But also your kid does need to have people in their life that they don’t agree with, right?  There’s also that level too where it’s like if you—in high school, having a wide range of social connections—I don’t even want to say just friends.  But just connections in general is so important and so beneficial that this idea of, “Well, just do more devotionals, and then God will send more friends your way.”  It’s like, well, or maybe we can get a job.  Or maybe if we don’t have close friends, at least, maybe we can try to find community.  I don’t know.  There’s a lot of other stuff there too.

Sheila: Yeah.

Johnna: Yeah.  Well, it’s not wrong to feel lonely.  And it’s sad to think that kids could walk away from this thinking, “I’m in sin for feeling lonely.  Or I’m in sin that I’m sad that my parents are getting a divorce.  Or I’m sin for liking a TV show.”  All of those things are not sins.  They’re compulsions.

Sheila: Right.  Okay.  So this book, first of all, frames everything as being about Satan.  Okay.  We need to not believe lies so that Satan doesn’t attack us and burn our house down.  It has this approach where the problem is with you and your emotions and with not accepting suffering rather than saying that God can comfort you.  And then it does a lot of the typical stuff that we’re all used to in these books.  And I don’t want to dwell too long on this, but I do—of course, we need to mention it.  Is you have all the typical purity culture stuff here.  

Rebecca:   Mm-hmm.  And I will say we’re not talking about it much because we already talked about it in the podcasts we’ve done on Lies Women Believe, which is the same book but for women who are adults.  So if you’re like, “Wait.  What did they say,” just go listen to that podcast.

Sheila: We’ve done a lot of podcasts on Dannah Gresh specifically and what she says about modesty.  That’s all in here too, okay?  So everything we’ve said about Dannah and modesty is in this book, right?  She talks about how bombarded teen boys feel when girls wear the latest fashions that emphasize the sexual allure of women by which she just means showing guys that they have a figure, okay?  So showing guys that they actually have curves.  Women were made with curves.  We can’t get away from it, right?  They never mention that boys are responsible for their own thoughts or that if a boy assaults them it isn’t your fault.  Okay?  

Rebecca: No.  It’s terrible because girls believe all these lies.  But we can never even mention that boys might actually have bad thoughts that they can control.

Sheila: Right.  Right.  So girls have to control all their thoughts so boys don’t.  So it’s all the typical purity culture stuff there.  They say that if you marry a non Christian your life will be filled with pain and heartache, but marrying a Christian will give joy, peace, and the opportunity to glorify God with your life.  Johnna—

Rebecca: Has this been your experience as a podcaster that every single Christian marriage automatically leads to joy, peace, and the opportunity—yeah.

Johnna: No.  And a lot of it stems from stuff like what we’re talking about day.  All of these people, men and women included, are doing the things that these books are telling them to do, and it’s not working.  It’s causing harm.  And then we’re all like, “What’s going on?  People are walking away from the faith.  People are getting into abusive relationships.”  We’re going to move on to talk a little bit more about that and how that could happen when you start stacking these ideas on top of each other.  We see it in this book.  I also think just side note—the text conversations that they included in this book are so patronizing.  If I was a teenager reading this book and I was reading through the friends texting each other the way that they do, it’s like this is so—it makes you feel like an infant.  Did you not see it?  Have you guys seen them?  Or maybe is it just because I got the Kindle version? 

Sheila: No.  No.  Yeah.  Because they have at the end of each chapter, they have girls showing how they’re believing these lies when they’re texting really weird things as examples to each other.  Yeah.

Rebecca: Where it’s clearly this didn’t happen kind of situation.

Johnna: They’re made up text conversations.

Rebecca: That’s—okay.  

Johnna: You’ve got to go look at it at one point (cross talk) love hate it so much.

Sheila: We should find one right now.  

Johnna: I think this is about friends.  “Mandy: Hey, friend.  Got a minute.  Mandy’s friend: Sure.  What’s up!?!? Mandy: Need some advice…I usually put on music to stop thinking…to chill out and relax.  I don’t really pay attention to the words.  Once I really look at it, and I start thinking about what they’re saying I realize it’s not what I want to be listening to.  But it’s already in my head.  I think this might be affecting me.  Thoughts?  Mandy’s friend: I hear ya! Some days I make time to be with God, but other days I end up listening to music for a lot longer than I thought I would…that takes time away from God.  So…I think it is affecting you…and ME!  Mandy: Let’s make a plan to get into God’s Word.  Throne before the phone.  Mandy’s friend:  Yeah.”  

Rebecca: Yeah.  No one texts like that.  And if they do, it’s because they think that someone is watching them.  That’s the text conversation that two girls whose parents go through their phones have as a cover story.  That’s what that is.

Johnna: Throne before the phone.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Yes.

Johnna: I mean that might actually go into a little bit what we were wanting to talk about today.  As far as media and music and all of these hidden devil things and things we consume.

Sheila: Yeah.  We can jump to that.  We can jump to that now.  Yeah.  Because there are so many lists throughout this book of things that are perfectly normal that they tell girls they’re not supposed to do and that they’re sinning if they do them.  Like, for instance, they say that before we watch any movie, any movie at all, you need to read a Christian review of it.  You need to write a list of pros and cons, and you need to pray over it before you watch any movie.  Okay.   

Johnna: Are you a former Plugged In kid?

Rebecca: Oh, I absolutely am a former Plugged In kid.

Johnna: 1000%.  Every time before I went to a movie I had to look up Plugged In and make sure.  See all of the things.

Sheila: And, I mean, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have discretion.  Of course—and discernment.  Of course, we should.  But the way that this is portrayed—here.  Let me give you another list.  Okay?  These are all the things that I could find.  And I don’t think this is a complete list, okay?  But all the things that I can find that can cause a girl to be open to Satan’s attacks and have him burn down her house.  All right?  Yoga, reading Harry Potter, listening to secular songs, wanting a boyfriend, wanting a friend, grumbling at your mom, spending too long doing your hair or your make up, watching a movie that has a sex scene in it, feeling angry at somebody, all of these things can lead to you being enslaved, attacked, or entangled to having the devil whisper directly to you and to ensnare you.  And I would just argue that most of these things are normal everyday things that everybody does.  And if we’re telling girls that every time you do one of these normal everyday things, you need to be worried that Satan is now going to jump on you, it can lead to something which is called religious scrupulosity.  And do you want to try to define that one, Becca?

Rebecca: Sure.  Yeah.  Religious scrupulosity is, in essence, saying that—it’s this idea that your faith is never just safe.  You can’t ever be safe.  You have to always be hyper vigilant because there’s always a way that’s going to bring you down.  You’re going to do one thing wrong, and it’s all going to fall apart.  You do one thing wrong, and you’re dooming your soul to hell.  You’re dooming someone else’s soul to hell.  That’s a big one for a lot of people where they might feel like, “Okay.  Well, I’m saved.  But if I—but what if someone who is not a Christian sees me listening to this music that’s secular.  And then because of that, they don’t see the light.  And because of that, they go to hell,” right?  There’s a lot of that kind of fear.  So it’s just this idea that even if you’re a Christian or even if you’re saved or all these different things, in essence, you’re still being judged constantly.  And there’s never a grace period.  You could just fall and trip up, and it’ll be disastrous for you, for someone else, and God will be disappointed and mad at you.  So it can be—yeah.  It’s really stressful.

Johnna: And in some Christian evangelical spaces, this is used—and you can see it as they’re being oppressed.  There’s a spirit of lust on them.  These more—a lot of times you’ll see it in more charismatic spaces.  But it’s literal demonic oppression is anger.  You have an angry demon on your shoulder that’s causing this rather than, again, giving us the tools to work through hard things.  It must be a demon.  But that’s where this stuff goes.  It doesn’t just stay in this controlled little space where you’re like you could be enslaved to the devil.  That’s kind of a crazy thing to think.  I think probably, maybe, if the authors were on this call with us they’d be like, “You knew what I mean.  You’re, well, actually, me.”  But no.  Actually, this is how it’s playing out in communities is people are being told that they’re oppressed by demons, told they’re living a full life of sin, and it’s for little things like this.  Oh, you listened to Beyoncé.  You were listening to the devil himself just now.  

Sheila: Taylor Swift.  Taylor Swine.

Rebecca: Didn’t you see?  She levitated down their street.

Sheila: I love that song.  I love that song so much.

Johnna: Me too.  But yeah.  It’s not just these little things where it’s like maybe that’s giving—one girl a complex.  It’s really harming whole communities.  These ideas.

Sheila: Yeah.  And anxiety disorders are really high in Christian evangelical spaces especially among teenagers.  And they talk a lot about anxiety in the book and how to overcome anxiety.  And the way that you overcome anxiety is to read your Bible.  So she talks about how—one of the authors said one day she felt really weighed down.  She was on a speaking trip, and she had to go back to her hotel room and read her Bible for hours in the hotel room to feel more grounded and at peace.  So imagine you’ve got this girl who is really, really anxious, right?  And isn’t sure if she’s saved, isn’t sure if God is angry at her, isn’t sure if she’s doubting too much, or if she’s letting Satan in, so she’s already really anxious.  And the way to get over this is to spend hours reading your Bible.  That actually compounds the problem.  I’m not saying that you shouldn’t read your Bible.  Okay?  Because all of this is nuanced, right?  But when the emphasis is the way that you get over your anxiety about whether or not God is upset at you and whether or not you’re doing enough good for God is to read your Bible for hours, you’re actually reinforcing—

Rebecca: You’re setting up a ritualistic behavior.  You’re setting up what’s called a ritualistic behavior, right?  So what’s so hard about this stuff is just what you are saying.  Where a lot of these things are good for you.  But if they’re done in a way that is obsessive, if they feel compulsive, if they become ritualistic, it can be really unhealthy, right?  So same thing with exercise is good for you.  If people are exercising in excess as a result to as a way to punish themselves or to force themselves to meet certain standards, that becomes a problem.  Similarly, pray, reading your Bible, good things.  If we’re telling teenage girls, “If you’re anxious it’s because you’re not reading your Bible enough,” and then, in essence, inducing anxiety disorders with compulsive ritualistic elements, that’s a problem.  That’s not good.  It’s one thing to say, “Hey, if you’re feeling anxious, here are a couple things you can try.  You could try reading your Bible.  You could try listening to some music that you find really soothing.  You could try to pray.  You could try some grounded meditation.”

Sheila: Go for a walk in the woods.  Yeah.  Whatever.

Rebecca: Yeah.  Having some options that include spiritual disciplines is great.  But telling girls, “Just read your Bible until you’re not anxious anymore,” is a problem because also what we see happening in a lot of these spaces—think about what it’s like if you are raised with this kind of mentality where if you have anger it’s a demon.  If you are worried, it’s probably a demon.  If you—

Sheila: If you’re lonely.  

Rebecca: If you’re lonely, it’s because you believe you lies and so demon.  All these things end up happening where you are always the problem even if objectively you have no friends, even if objectively your parents are getting divorced and it’s traumatizing you, even if objective you are struggling, struggling in school even though you’re trying your hardest and you’re really worried about your future, even though objectively all these things could be happening.  Okay.  Objectively speaking, the boys around you in church are leering, right?  You’ve still been told at every single point you’re the problem.  You’re believing lies.  It’s not that there’s something going on that you need to be protected from.  It’s that you are the thing that you need to be protected from.  Then you marry someone, who is not treating you well, who makes you angry, who makes you feel small, who makes you feel lonely.  And now what’s in the back of your head.  Have you been raised to think, “Hey, I can speak up.  We can fix—I can do something about this,” right?  Say that it’s not even a bad, abusive marriage.  It’s just one where you got married, and then you didn’t draw boundaries with each other because you were raised in this kind of thing where you’re always the problem.  And you don’t deal with the issues while they’re small issues in year one, and now it’s been twelve years of swallowing it all and just keeping it up inside, and just—maybe you got into these ritualistic activities.  So you just go and read your Bible you feel better.  You get this repetitive prayer in your head that you just do as a self-soothing technique.  And at some point, that breaks.  And it stops working.  And then what happens?  All of a sudden you—all of a sudden everything just falls apart, and you don’t have any tools to pick it back up.  And it’s a problem in marriages that aren’t abusive, but it also leads people into abusive marriages and staying in them for longer.  It’s a problem.

Sheila: Yeah.    

Johnna: Well, it also makes you a hero if you can do all these things.  So say you are in an abusive relationship, but you’re just continuously dying to yourself and being self sacrificial and praying all the prayers and going to God.  If you feel sad about it, then you take that to God and let Him fix that because you trust God enough that He can fix that.  And if He doesn’t, that’s still okay because it was for my good.  There’s this whole weird hero thing that happens there where, in a lot of these communities, we look at those stories, and we think, “Well, that’s a story of someone who persevered.  And look at their testimony now,” rather than—what?  In any other space, you’re like—if you’re watching that happen in a movie, you’re not like, “This is a good thing going on right now.”  Maybe if you’re in danger, you don’t need to be head down in your room praying.  Maybe you need to be getting out of the house.  If you’re watching a scary movie, you’re not like, “Don’t just stop and pray.  Run.  God gave you legs.  Run.”  

Rebecca: Well, and also some of the questions—well, I will admit.  One of the questions that I have is because we know so few people who are abusive truly change.  So few.  Could it be that those women who are married to those men, if they had spoken up sooner, they were the kind of men who were open to change?  Maybe they were going to change no matter what, and you just delayed it by ten years by saying nothing.  There’s also that aspect where it’s like these books—

Sheila: Yeah.  Those stories that we hear where she prayed for thirty-eight years, and then he stopped abusing her.  What would have happened if she had just spoken up at year two?  Yeah.

Rebecca: If he was the kind of man, who changes.  Right?  And that’s tricky to talk about, but it’s also this kind of conditioning that girls go through may have robbed so many women of actually just happy marriages that could have been happy the whole time.  It has disempowered so many people, and it’s a problem.

Sheila: And I do want to talk about the marriage thing.  I want to talk about one more thing before we leave the scrupulosity thing though.  Because this was a part of the book that—it wasn’t the worst part of the book for me.  There is another part coming up that was the worst part.  But this one really made me upset because of how they approached whether or not you know you’re a Christian.  And they went on and on about how, yes, you’re saved through prayer and believing in Christ, but they also emphasize over and over again that you can’t rest on your laurels.  You have to always check to see whether you’re really saved.  And it makes girls doubt if they really are saved.  And they have all of these stories of people, who thought they were saved but weren’t.  So you need to constantly ask yourself if you’ve been transformed.  It insinuates that you’re not saved if you watch certain kinds of movies or if you hold grudges or if you have secret sins then you’re not saved.  They talked about a girl, who had loved Jesus and thought she was a Christian, but she actually wasn’t one because she ended up sleeping with her boyfriend.  And now she needed to be born again because she hadn’t been.  And this is quite a big portion of the book is telling girls the faith you think you have you may not have.  And so you need to constantly be checking and making sure that you’re being radically transformed.

Johnna: And also make sure you’re—make sure you’re keeping up with telling everybody in your small group all of these things, so they can tell you you’re not actually a Christian.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  It really is just a manual in self gas lighting where you’re never just allowed to think, “Maybe God just loves me.  Maybe I’m not a horrible person.  And I’m just a person.”

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  But yeah.  Because you got to picture these young girls doing this in a Bible study.  Is this the message that you want your girls to hear?  Do you want them to hear that God loves them, that they are safe, that God delights them, that God wants to comfort them?  That, yes, God wants them to make good decisions.  But if you don’t, not all hope is lost.  His grace is new every morning because that is not the message of this book.  That is not the message of this book.  

Johnna: What’s really interesting is that, at the end of the day, what it really reads like if you step back and objectively look at the messages that are sent is it reads like people who don’t trust God.  And so they have to have all these things in place and really control girls or women—in their book to women—with fear and shame and rules.  And as long as you follow all of these things and we have to keep you living in a constant state of fear, so that you don’t step out of line because we don’t trust that God is big enough to care when maybe we do step off the path that we’re supposed to be on or we do do something dangerous or we do—I don’t know.  Listen to Taylor Swift.  It’s just a fear—it’s fear based, shame based relationship.

Rebecca: It also feels like—it also feels a lot like manifestation culture.  And that, going off of what Johnna is saying, because it’s entirely based on not trusting God, right?  Because manifestation is a really big thing right now amongst my generation.  The young Millenials and the older Gen Zeds.  But this idea where it’s like you just manifest that I’m going to have success.  In the next seven months, my life is going to look different.  You do all these things where you talk about what you’re going to have as if you already have it so that it happens.  And it’s this whole spiritual practice thing, and it’s complete bunk because it’s just very basic, hey, if you’re focused on having a better budget, you’re probably not going to be spending money without thinking of it, right?  It’s like it accidentally works, right?  And so then people are like, “What?  I have a spiritual connection.”  No.  You don’t.  You just didn’t buy Starbucks three times a day.  But it feels the same way because it’s like if you believe the wrong things you might accidentally manifest God’s disappointment.  And if you believe the good things, then you’ll kind of force God’s hand, right?  So it’s this idea where it’s once again taking control away from God and putting it in our hands.  But it’s not real control.  It’s fake control.  And the only way that you can actually feel like you’re maintaining fake control is by dumbing down your emotions, by numbing yourself, and by, in essence, creating these weird rituals so that we give ourselves that little dopamine boost of I did the thing.  Okay.  We’re okay.  We can keep going.  And it’s so similar to manifestation culture, which is very—yeah.  Many evangelicals think it’s witchcraft and very bad bad.  But I find it very ironic how similar it is because it’s, once again, taking control out of God’s hands.

Sheila: Well, do you remember Josh Howerton’s quote?  We talked about in a podcast awhile ago.  Give a man a crown, and he’ll become a king, right?  Treat him like he’s a king.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  Just manifest.  Just manifest your marriage.

Sheila: Yeah.  It doesn’t work that way.  Doesn’t work that way.  Okay.  Remember, people, that we do have a one sheet listing—talking about all of this stuff with page numbers and quotes and everything that you can download.  And the link for that is in the podcast notes.  We put it up on the website yesterday.  So please go and download that, so that you can see this and give it to anyone that you know that is trying to lead a group study of teenage girls through this book or is thinking of giving this book to her daughter because we need to stop it.  All right.  Let’s go on to some other weird stuff that they have in the book.  There’s weird internalized misogyny and male hierarchy in there.

Rebecca: That’s bread and butter. 

Sheila: It’s bread and butter for these—and we’ve already talked a lot about this in Lies Women Believe.  But I just want to give you a few examples.  So it’s not—these aren’t the only examples.  I’m just trying to give you a taste before we move on because we do not have time in even a five-hours podcast.  

Johnna: A little sprinkle of salt.  A little taste.

Sheila: Right.  So they talk about how sin causes us to resist a husband’s leadership, and they’re very big on men’s leadership.  They say this.  They say that girls don’t just crave a boyfriend, which, of course, it’s wrong to crave a boyfriend in the first place.  But what you actually crave is to control and lead a boyfriend.  So they have no evidence of this.  They just give some anecdotes.  But they provide no evidence.  All right?  And then they say that if you want to get ready for marriage where the husband will lead you, you need to let a guy lead now.      

Rebecca: That’s a great idea to tell fifteen year olds.  Because peers are what?  Oh, fifteen-year-old boys.  That’s a great—I can’t see how that goes wrong.

Johnna: Well, and I think I’ve told you this, Sheila.  I know I have said it publically that part of my own story is all of this stuff was told to me all the time growing up.  And I think I must have been first or second grade, and I raised my hand to answer a question in Sunday School.  And the teacher said, “No.  You can’t answer because the boys needs to answer because they’re the spiritual leaders in the room.”

Sheila: Wow.  Wow.

Johnna: We were like eight or nine.  But that is happening.  That is—that was so ingrained in me.  Some of that stuff when she’s talking about that—I was told that by so many people in my life.  You just have a desire to control men.  And it’s like, “Actually, I’m just asking a question.”  But that is the way that it’s viewed, and it’s because of crap like this.

Sheila: Yep.  And, again, please, everybody think about this.  Think about how dangerous it is to tell a fifteen, sixteen, seventeen-year-old girl that she’s supposed to let her boyfriend lead her because abuse is really common in teenager relationships.  They actually have a higher rate of abuse than in adult relationships.  Okay?  Because two people are not mature and they’re together.  This is totally unsafe advice.   And it’s in your teenager years that you’re supposed to figure out what you think.  

Rebecca: Well, and also no matter what you believe about male headship, there is nothing that says that you should allow someone who is not your spouse to lead you spiritually.  That’s just bizarre.  There’s not a verse there.  No matter what you believe about male headship.  That is absolutely reaching and making the Scripture say what you want it to say.

Sheila: Yeah.  And, again, there is nothing—there are no—there is no proof that women are out to control men.  They are defining this as women’s main sin.  That all women are bent towards trying to control men.  There is no proof of that.  People use a mistranslation of Genesis 3:16, especially the ESV that does this verse badly and isn’t in line with better translations.  Women sin.  Focus on the Family talks about this too.  How women’s basic sin is trying to control men.  No.  It’s not.  And telling girls that your bent is to try to control men is to make girls feel like, “Well, do I?  Maybe I’m expressing my opinion too much.” 

Johnna: What it manifested—we’re using the good M word today—in my life as is you can’t say no to guys.  No is wrong because you’re trying to control this situation.  But if you got yourself into a situation where you need to say no because maybe it’s sinful or abusive, then you’re at fault that you got to that situation in the first place.  So then there’s this whole dilemma, which, literally, this whole conversation we’ve had—those are all the building blocks to getting there.  This is what this turns into.  I’ve lived it.  I think many women, especially millennial women, have lived this story.  This exact book.  All of these puzzle pieces make the puzzle that is my therapy sessions now.

Sheila: Yes.  Exactly.  Okay.  So she has teenage relationships really wrong.  She also talks about women, adult women, and she disparages women who think that they deserve the same pay as men or think that they can do the same jobs that men do.  And she claims the quest for equality—or they claim the quest for equality has undermined homemaking and motherhood as if equality is mutually exclusive.  Equality and homemaking and motherhood are mutually exclusive. 

Rebecca: Every now and then when I think about the fact that Connor and I half and half do stay-at-home parent jobs, right?  That’s how our family works.  We do half and half.  I would just love to see the confused look on people’s faces when they realize that I am technically a stay-at-home mom when my whole job is to try to take all this stuff down.  The dial-up computer sounds.  The whirring.  Processing.  It’s like yeah.  No.  I think that you’re misogynist, and also I like to bake bread.  Take that.  

Sheila: And you make everything from scratch.  I know.  But she sees a career in opposition to being a wife and a mom.  I keep saying she, but I mean they.  They completely ignore the fact that dads can stay at home too, and that that works best in many families.  

Rebecca: And also life is just expensive, and a lot of families need to have both people outside of the house.  And also that was the norm for a long time.  This idea like biblical times with the women not working, where are you finding that?  Anyway, that’s a different podcast that I might do on the patron with Joanna at some point.

Sheila: One thing I do want to say about this too is the—if we’re saying that God calls the woman to stay at home and raise the kids and the man to go out and work, what we’re saying is that Christianity cannot be practiced by eighty percent of the women in the world.

Rebecca: Yes.  Absolutely.  

Sheila: Because the idea of a woman staying home while a man goes out and works is something that only people who are relatively privileged can do.  And so if we’re setting up a standard for what Christianity is that cannot apply to eighty percent of the world’s women, then we’re doing it wrong.  So stop it.  And then, of course, they also say that marriage is a girl’s most significant calling and, with it, having children.  And they say that you have a responsibility to fulfill this calling.    

Rebecca: I feel like we all know why that’s just a thing that we had to call out, right?  I’m sorry.  Under his eye or whatever it is from Handmaid’s Tale, right? 

Sheila: Keith and I talked about the Harrison Butker commencement speech in a couple of podcasts ago too where—you know what?  A lot of people are not going to get married.  A lot of people are not going to have kids.  Doesn’t mean that you haven’t fulfilled your role.  Your most important role is not having kids.  There is nothing biblical that says that a woman’s most important role is marriage and having kids.  In fact, there’s something biblical that says the opposite.

Johnna: But it is, if your whole framework is that you were specifically created for man to make his life better and to have his babies—if that’s the full—that’s what women are and that’s all we are, this makes perfect sense.

Sheila: It does.  Yes.

Johnna: But it’s also not God.  God doesn’t see women as that. 

Rebecca: Yeah.  It’s logically consistent as long as your Gospel is that women exist to serve men.  If your Gospel is that women and men exist to serve Christ, it doesn’t make sense.  But if your Gospel is based on patriarchy, then it all is very logically consistent.

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  Okay.  So let’s bring in something else that’s logically consistent.  Let’s talk about mental health.  

Rebecca: Awesome.  I think that they probably handle this with nuance, very encouraging.  They tell people to look for licensed, evidence-based practitioners, and they probably take it really seriously and say, “It’s not your fault that you have depression or anxiety, and you can’t just pray away the worry.”  I think that’s what they say.

Sheila: Yeah.  You’re wrong.  This part got me mad.  I mean lots of the book got me mad, but this really got me mad because they give so many examples of things that are often—that are most likely trauma responses.  And they blame it on sin.  Because remember that a child is helpless, okay?  And if a child has experienced trauma, that is going to come out in some way.  So, for instance, they misunderstand cutting.  Okay?  They call cutting as, well, girls are doing this because they’re not measuring up.  

Rebecca: They’re perfectionists.  

Sheila: They’re perfectionists.  They don’t talk about cutting as a girl trying to have some control over something because she doesn’t have control.

Rebecca: Or a call for help.  (cross talk)

Sheila: Or a call for help.  Or trying to externalize depression.  They’re not talking about any of that.  It’s just this is your fault because you’re not understanding who you are in Christ, right?  And they mention this about all kinds of different things throughout the book.  Substance abuse is it’s your fault.  When a teenage girl is abusing substances, there is often something else going on there, and we should react with curiosity, not with condemnation.  Promiscuity.  Same thing.  If you have a very young teenage girl, who is being very promiscuous, we should be reacting with curiosity and concern, not with condemnation because promiscuity is—especially in young girls is very correlated with sexual abuse.  Dressing promiscuously.  Same thing.  If you have a girl who is dressing really provocatively when she’s very young, you need to ask why.  And let’s be curious about that instead of just labeling her a slut or trying to get a guy’s attention.

Rebecca: Trashable.

Sheila: Trashable.  Trashable as Dannah Gresh says.  Is she dressing trashable?  So those are exact words of Dannay Gresh.  Then there’s this weird stuff about anorexia, which they talk about several times through the book.

Johnna: I have that quote.  Hold up right now because I was like this bothered me so much that I screenshotted it and sent it to a few friends like ahhh.  It’s, “after almost a decade, Caitlyn is still in bondage.  Still acting out on the lies she believes about herself.  Her battle with anorexia and bulimia hasn’t ended.  At least not how we’d like to see it end.  She’s tried physician’s recommendations, years of counseling, antidepressants, and even months of confinement in the psychiatric ward of a hospital.  Nothing has helped.  We believe,”—because they are clearly (distorted audio) qualified to speak into this.  “We believe she’s missing one vital element.  The one thing that could fix all of these things is truth.”  That’s what she’s missing.  So she has this severe, very clearly severe, issue with anorexia and bulimia, and they have the answer to that.  It’s just that she’s missing truth.  Not that she really needs to be continuing with help from these professionals.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  And they tell these two stories of anorexia really close to each other.  So there’s this one girl, who doesn’t get any help.  She’s still in bondage even though she has gone to physicians and everything.  And then they tell a story of another girl, who went to see a counselor, who tells her to stop believing lies.  And she puts Post-It notes all over her house about how worthwhile she is, and that fixes it.  And the message that you’re giving to parents is psychiatrists aren’t going to help, right?  Medication is not going to help.  Getting medical help is not going to help.  Instead, you just—you need to understand that your daughter is believing lies. 

Rebecca: What I find so infuriating as someone who did psychology as her undergrad.  If you guys didn’t know yet, I was a psychology grad.  Anyway, is this idea that—it’s very pervasive among a lot of the mental health spaces is that, well, if it worked for me—or if it worked for this one person, that’s just the answer.  And you just didn’t work hard enough.  For example, right?  I had really severe anxiety and depression for a long time.  And there’s a lot of recommendations that exercise can help with depression and anxiety.  It absolutely can.  That is an evidence-based treatment.  One of them.  Genuinely.  There is evidence that says if you are not active doing exercise can help alleviate depressive symptoms in many people.  Not in all people.  But I was working out five times a week for an hour and a half.  And so if someone looked at me and said, “Well, you just need to be—exercise more,” it’s like okay.  But clearly, that didn’t work for me because I was in the worst part of my panic disorder in university when I was going to—I was working out five days a week, right?  So just because it works for one person—so that girl probably—having reminders of her worth and meditating on how special and loved she was probably helped her.  Good for her.  That does not mean it is the only appropriate way to handle these things or even that it should be the first thing that we run to—the only thing that we run to, right?  There is no risk in saying, “Hey, you should remember how beautiful and wonderful and worthy and loved you are.  And also let’s look at antidepressants.”  There’s no problem with doing both.  And they’re presenting this false dichotomy of—see?  This girl did the Bible thing.  And because we happen to find a girl who did the Bible thing and got better, we’re going to show the Bible thing does better.  We’re going to ignore all the other girls who did the Bible thing and also didn’t improve because they obviously didn’t Bible enough.  This girl Bibled a lot.  And so she got better.  So, really, it’s your fault.

Sheila: Yeah.  And, remember, when you combine this with religious scrupulosity, which makes—anorexia is so correlated with religious scrupulosity.  Yeah.  And anorexia is really—it’s dangerous.  It is downright dangerous.  We need, as parents, to take it seriously if our children have eating disorders.  Yeah.  So the way that they warned that physicians don’t work is scary.  They also have—here’s some more great quotes.  They shame girls for having hormonal issues.  So they call PMS pretty mean stuff and how you need to stop that.  Okay.  

Johnna: Eat more chocolate.  It literally says eat more chocolate in the book.

Rebecca: That’s just—yeah.  That’s special.

Sheila: Yeah.  And that anxiety is a belief issue.  So the reason that you’re anxious is because you’re not believing the right things.  And this is very common.  John MacArthur teaches that there is no such thing as mental illnesses.  It’s so damaging.  And, again, please, do you really want your teenage girl to be told that if she’s anxious she’s in sin and not believing things and is far from God?  Or do you want her to feel like even if you’re anxious God is close to you and God loves you and God wants to help you through this?

Rebecca: Well, the other thing too is what’s going to actually help kids change how they’re thinking, right?  So if you’re in the throes of an anxiety disorder, it’s probably because you’re anxious and perfectionistic, and you’re trying so hard.  And you’re just not giving yourself any grace.  So if you go to that perfectionistic kid, who is experiencing the throes of an anxiety disorder, and you’re like, “You’re right.  You are a failure.  You are doing this badly.  You are the problem.  Everything would be better if you could just be better.  Your entire life would be fine if it wasn’t for you.  You are the only thing that’s wrong, and everything in your head that’s telling you, ‘If I make even one mistake, my whole life is falling apart,’ it’s right.  You should listen to that voice.  And then you should be so scared that you’ll think differently.”  Are they actually going to think any differently?  No.  They’re not.  They’re just not.  There is truth to the fact that when you are dealing with anxiety or depression our brain absolutely goes in directions that are unhelpful.  It absolutely has negative cognition patterns.  You have maladaptive coping strategies.  All sorts of things.  But you don’t start by saying—by, in essence, affirming all of those.  You don’t start there.  If you actually want to see change, you start with saying, “Okay.  No.  No.  No.  No.  We’re going to take a step back and look at the evidence.”  We’re not going to just going to throw platitudes at someone like, “Well, just believe this then.”  You can’t tell someone what to believe.  We have to get them to look at the evidence.  And guess what?  The evidence might mean that yeah.  Life sucks right now.  And that’s what they’re not willing to deal with, right?  The evidence might be that yeah.  That youth pastor is a creepy dude, who should not be treating you that way.  That’s what the evidence might find.  The evidence might find that, hey, you have a lot to offer in terms of leadership qualities even though you’re a girl.  And the way that this church is treating you is causing you to die on the inside.  That might be what the evidence finds, and they don’t want that.  And so what do they do?  They say, “Well, you probably have let a demon into you because you are the problem.  And so you just need to die to yourself.”

Sheila: They don’t talk a lot about letting demons in.  They just talk about Satan—you’ve let Satan in.  He is a demon, but—

Rebecca: Big demon.  That’s the big one.  That’s the big one.

Sheila: You let the big guy—

Johnna: That’s daddy demon.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And they talk about that a lot.  Yeah.

Rebecca: But that’s the problem, right?  Is that you can’t allow these teenagers to look at the evidence because the evidence might point to a reality that these authors aren’t willing to accept.

Sheila: We talk a lot on the Bare Marriage podcast about how purity culture damaged women and how views of male sexuality like those in books like Every Man’s Battle can wreck women’s marital and sexual satisfaction.  But men have been hurt too.  Often, our very teachings prime them for objectification and for porn use.  And so we desperately need male allies as we try to correct the evangelical church’s teaching on sexuality.  And that’s why I’m so grateful for our sponsor this week, Sam Jolman’s new book, The Sex Talk You Never Got, which just launched.  It’s such a rich book leading men away from a shame based and objectifying approach to sex and towards a view of sex that preserves true joy, awe, and passion.  Written by a licensed counselor, it’s a much needed book to help reshape and reframe men’s views and practice of sexuality, and it’s such a great companion to our books.  Instead of portraying an ugly predatory view of male sexuality, it presents sexuality that is connected with awe and beauty.  So please check out Sam Jolman’s, The Sex Talk You Never Got.  The link is in the podcast notes.  But that leads us to the last bit that did make me the most angry.  Okay.  And that’s their treatment of abuse.  And it’s really horrifying.  And so, please, if you are thinking of leading this study, if you listen to nothing else in this podcast, listen to this.  Okay?  So I’ll give you—there’s a whole bunch of stuff to cover here.  I’ll start with one—with something that happens fairly early in the book which they’re telling the story of a father, who sexually assaulted a girl’s sister.  Okay?  So he didn’t sexually assault the girl, but he sexually assaulted her sister.  

Rebecca: So his daughter?

Sheila: Yes.  Yes.  And the book talks about the importance—so the book is—so they’re talking to the girl, whose sister was sexually assaulted by the father.  And they’re saying that you need to honor your father even if he is bad and the vital importance of forgiving your father.   And they said, “God’s Word asks us to forgive our offenders.”  And it then tells girls to move towards their dads.  So if he isn’t taking the first step in this forgiveness process, you need to take the first step and move towards your dad.  Overlook his human frailties and admire the strengths that he may have.  Yeah.  

Rebecca: I think I’m—now I’m going to tread carefully.  But I’m just going to say when I see authors write stuff like this I am someone who is grateful to not have any reason to have to have this advice, right?  I don’t really—the idea of sexual abuse within a family is not something I had to grapple with at fourteen, right?  And so this advice, to me, is just fully nauseating, right?  It’s full disgust.  Full disgust feelings about that.  My question is who benefits from believing this.  Because someone like me, who doesn’t have people in their life who sexually abuse children, there is no reason that I have to believe this.  This makes me feel like the authors have something going on in their families.  And I’m not saying that’s happening.  What I’m saying is I think authors need to realize that this is only normal to have to believe if there’s a reason that you need to be protected against the idea of getting away from child molesters.  So maybe it’s that you’re financially reliant on them.  Maybe it’s that you are socially reliant on them.  Maybe they’re your spouse.  Maybe they are your own father.  Maybe there’s something like that going on.  And the only reasons why someone would kind of not have a disgust response to that would be because there’s some form of a defense mechanism there whether it’s because it costs too much for me to give this up right now or I’m scared of what will happen in my life if my response is anything other than full forgiveness and reconciliation.  Again, we’re not saying anything in particular.  But just—that’s the kind of thing I want our listeners to look for is when you see something like that ask why would someone believe that.  Because nothing changes in my life if I’m like, “Hey, child molesters, stay away from me and my kids,” nothing changes in my life.  As far as I am aware, obviously, there is no one in my kid’s life who I—or in my life who this would apply to.  Because it’s clear, if you cross that boundary, you’re gone.  You are out.  I am sorry because I have kids to protect.  And that is the appropriate response.  You don’t need to tell children—because, remember, this is not to a forty year old, who knows of somewhere in the community—how can I minister to people who have been sexual offenders?  That’s not this book.  Diane’s book, I think, talks—touches on that, right?  But this book does not.  This is for children.  

Johnna: Well, did you guys see that Lifeway survey that got reposted from 2019.  Yeah.  2019.  It was Protestant pastors that were surveyed.  Let’s see here.  You guys like your numbers.  Yeah.  It was a thousand U.S. pastors between August 30 and September 24 of 2019 were surveyed.  And seventeen percent said that they did not think that pastors should permanently withdraw from public ministry if they commit child sexual abuse.  

Sheila: Oh wow.  Wow.  Yeah.  That’s amazing.  That’s awful.  

Johnna: Yeah.  So, to me, even if it’s just protecting those systems, it could literally be—you could be coming out of John MacArthur’s church and think that that’s correct.  I mean we’ve seen it in letters from that church where that—so that thinking—it doesn’t even have to be in their family unit.  It can be in their church community.  And so that community can be so groomed to look at it that way that it feels like a pertinent subject.

Rebecca: Yeah.  And that’s why it’s important to ask who is benefitting.  Because if the answer is the pedophile, it’s not good advice.  It’s just not.  It’s not good advice, right?  So it’s just (cross talk).

Sheila: And it’s downright dangerous.  They’re told—there is a footnote acknowledging sexual abuse.  Okay.  And that you shouldn’t have to put up with that which is great.  Okay.

Rebecca: Yeah.  But it’s kind of erased by all of this.

Sheila: But it’s not in the text.  What is in the text is that you need to move—take the move toward your father even if he doesn’t take the move towards you.  You need to overlook his human frailties.  Sexual abuse is not a human frailty.  

Rebecca: No.  It’s not.  Incestual family child sexual abuse is very rare.  

Sheila: Yeah.  This is especially awful and heinous because—yeah.  Humans have an ingrained incest taboo.  We do.  And so to overcome that means that there’s something seriously evil going on there.  And nowhere are the girls told that a relationship takes two.  Nowhere are they told that they need to see fruit in keeping with repentance.  No.  These girls, who have an abusive father, are told that your relationship with your father is dependent on you.  So if he’s treating you badly, you need to take the first steps to forgive and to mend that relationship.  So we are putting the responsibility on the child to mend the relationship, not the parent, the adult, who has actually hurt a child.  And I could just imagine carrying the weight of that.  So if I have a bad relationship with my parents, it’s on me.  It is my fault.  That is such a huge burden to put on a child, and they aren’t willing to lift a finger to help them.

Johnna: Well, they also make some serious false promises, when they talk about this.  Not necessarily—I don’t know if it’s in the same section, but it’s when they’re addressing authority and submission.  They talk about a higher authority controls every human authority.  And that godly submission is a means of great blessing and protection.  And when they are addressing what godly submission looks like, they’re saying—they even say they’re human after all.  They might want you to do things that are wrong, but the godly thing to do is to continue to submit.  And that that’s your biggest act of godliness in that moment is to submit even when it’s wrong.

Sheila: Yeah.  Because God will make it right in the end.  Yes.  They say. 

Johnna: Yeah.  Maybe if you do that, you’ll get that protection that you’re wanting from your sexually abusive parent.  What?  This is so messed up when you look at it all—when you put all the blocks together, it really creates a horrifically bad situation for teenagers.

Sheila: Yeah.  And then they give this other example in the same section that you’re talking about which is a different section of the father—sexual abuse.  But in this section, they open it with a mother, who calls her daughter stupid.  I think it’s a mother.  It might have just been a parent.  But some parent called their daughter stupid.  And their reaction to that is to give lots of illustrations of being mistreated and, instead of teaching about boundaries or speaking up or justice, they tell people to forgive.  You just need to forgive.  And, again, you need to put up with mistreatment because this how God makes things right in the end.  And they even talk about how often we have a hard time submitting to our spiritual authority, and they give the example of pastors, teachers, and parents’ authority.  And they say that you have to place yourself under their authority and try to repair the relationship if something is off.  There is nothing about what if they are abusing you.  

Rebecca: Or even just about what does that—what does a healthy relationship with a grown up look like too, right?  Because, hey, healthy mothers don’t call their kids stupid.  That’s not a thing that they do.  And that’s what’s really hard, right?   Because it’s one thing when all these authors, whenever we call stuff out, the response is always like, “Well, I didn’t mean it for,” it’s like okay.  But you’re giving an example here of a girl with a pedophile dad, of another girl whose mom is verbally just assaulting her as well, I’m sorry.  Being told you’re stupid by your parent is horribly—it’s just terrible, right?  You have other examples of girls, who are experiencing severe mental health issues.  Anorexia.  A decade of anorexia.  That is one of the most lethal mental health disorders that exists.  These things—I can’t think of bigger and worse things.  They’re dealing with sexual assault.  They’re dealing with all these different things.  So who is it not for then?

Sheila: Yeah.  They can’t claim, “Well, we didn’t mean it for girls who are being abused,” because your anecdotes are about that.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  And in every single one of those anecdotes, the girls are blamed or the onus of the next step is put on them.  

Sheila: And the next step is always repair.  It isn’t get to safety.  It is repair.    

Rebecca: Yeah.  It’s not like their book is all about make sure you don’t believe these lies and all these lies can lead to demons getting a foothold and all this stuff.  And by the way, if you are sexually abused, that’s not a lie.  You need to go see a policeman or social worker or a teacher.

Sheila: Again, in the footnote, they did say that.  In the text.

Rebecca: No.  No.  No.  In the text.  And then they don’t say all this other crap about him.  By the way, if your dad is a pedophile and you don’t need to worry about your safety, you need to worry about making sure that your dad likes you.  That’s weird.  That’s not okay.

Sheila: And then they talk about all these spiritual authorities that you have and how girls don’t like to submit to their spiritual authorities.  But they say, “But if you don’t, then you come out of their covering, and you open yourself up to Satan.”  So it’s that whole umbrella thing from Gothard, right?  That we’re supposed to be under the umbrella or else we’re just—what’s the word?  

Rebecca: Vulnerable?

Sheila: Yeah.  We’re super vulnerable to Satan.  It’s open season on us because we don’t have our protection.  And they don’t acknowledge that the—you might actually be being hurt by those who are supposed to be protecting you.

Rebecca: I even think that even if we’re not looking at it from an abuse situation—that idea of you might be being hurt by those who are protecting you—the thing that I get mad about with this too is that even if they’re never abused, what has this done?  This has taught girls to not be able to stand up to peer pressure.  It’s taught them to never take their faith personally or into their own hands because they’re always supposed to let someone else lead them.  It teaches them to actively not engage in critical thought and to actively stop critical thinking.  So even if this is a very privileged kid, who—think me.  Okay.  Even if this me—because I read all of this stuff, and I thought it was crap, right?  But me with not my personality growing up, right?  If I had read the Brio magazine and had not just taken the good parts and been immune to the bad ones because you guys had inoculated us already, if it had been someone in my situation with great parents, great family, who married a great guy, right?  Just all this stuff.  I still would lack key tools and necessary aspects of human living if I followed this advice.  That’s the issue.  This isn’t only an abuse issue.  This is just a skills issue.  Do you want a teenager who doesn’t know how to say no to peer pressure?  

Johnna: Well, it also—at the end of the day, I think it’s never not an abuse issue because what it is also doing is grooming women who don’t experience abuse to not believe or take seriously other people that do experience abuse.  So it’s like I don’t have a framework for that.  I don’t understand that.  I have no—it’s training us to spiritual bypass each other when something hard happens.  It is fully grooming, and I know that word is really triggering for a lot of people.  But that’s what this is.  This is grooming young women to not take abuse seriously whether it’s for themselves or each other. 

Sheila: Mm-hmm.  Do you remember the anecdote they told about the youth pastor, who left after the affair?

Johnna: Mm-hmm.  

Sheila: Yeah.  Okay.  So, Becca, so there was this—they were talking about how there was this girl where—and they told this story of the youth pastor having an affair and left the church.  And then there was this other girl in the youth group who was really, really sad that the youth pastor left.  And it sounds like what they’re saying is that the youth pastor had sex with this girl which we know is not an affair.  That is clergy sexual abuse as well as statutory rape most likely.  So we got two strikes there.  But they frame it as an affair.  

Rebecca: Of course, they do.

Sheila: And then they tell—they give the advice that you can’t be mad at the church because the youth pastor had the affair.  And if you get disillusioned with the church, then you are in sin and believing a lie.  

Johnna: Do I remember correctly that they kind of frame it as a you’re idolizing the youth pastor if you’re sad about that?  Am I right about that being that portion of the book?

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  Mm-hmm.

Johnna: So weird.  It’s like this like star struck version of teenage girls that every teenage girl has this thing for the youth pastor and wanting to be the favorite is the way it read to me.  Did that read that way to you?

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  And so you’ve put your faith in the youth pastor, not in God, if you’re disillusioned and if you don’t want to go to church anymore, and so you’re in sin.  So the youth pastor sexually abused a congregant, and nothing happened really.  He left the church, but it hasn’t been disclosed.  It hasn’t been talked about.  And you know what’s happened.  You’re disillusioned, but you’re the one in sin.  Not the church.

Rebecca: I mean that’s just part and parcel what we’ve seen over and over again with the SBC.  So it’s like that doesn’t—that’s not surprising at all, right?  This is the manual that was given to girls in the SBC pretty much.

Sheila: Yes.  Yes.  Oh, oh, oh.  There’s this other really funny part.  Sorry.  In the part about submission even if you don’t agree with authority.  They just have this throwaway line that I just need to say.  They say this, “In some instances, she can still express her opinions as long she does it humbly and respectfully.”  So my question is what are the instances where she can’t express her opinion? 

Rebecca: If it’s even humbly or respectfully.

Sheila: Yeah.  What are the instances where a girl should not express her opinion even humbly or respectfully?  I cannot think of one.  The fact that they think that there are instances where she should not be expressing her opinion is horrifying to me.  

Rebecca: Yeah.  Because it’s—yeah.  I can go on about that, but I’m going to not because of time.

Sheila: Yes.  Okay.  Then there’s these weird sexting thing.  Did you see the sexting things?  

Johnna: Mm-hmm.

Sheila: I’ll read the actual conversation with Jake because I found it so amazing—

Johnna: This made me laugh so hard.

Rebecca: Oh no.  Do they do a sexting convers—did they try to sext?

Sheila: Yeah.  But the problem is where there was—where there looks like this could be a case of grooming or sexual abuse, they never name it as that.  And this happens repeatedly in the book.  So I just want to see—yeah.

Rebecca: Oh my gosh.  Ew.

Sheila: Okay.  So listen to this.  

Rebecca: Sorry.  I just saw the conversation on the page.

Sheila: Okay.  So this is describing some texting conversations that a girl named Sadie is having.  So this is scene two.  “It’s 10:00 on Sunday night.  Sadie is parked in front of her laptop where she has been for the last hour.  Right now she is messaging Jake.  First they talk about how fake Corrie is.  Then the conversation gets a little sexual.  Jake says he’d like to take her virginity away from her, but he’s just not sure.  After all, she’s the pastor’s daughter.  What would he think?  Sadie says it’s none of her dad’s business.  Will the real Sadie please stand up?”  And the point they’re trying to make from this is that Sadie is being two faced because she’s acting one way with her friend Corrie and another way with Jake, who is making all these inappropriate comments, and how Sadie needs to be consistent in all of her relationships.  And that’s the message that they’re giving here is that Sadie is being two faced.

Rebecca: Versus the message being it’s creepy for boys to text you about taking your virginity.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And if a boy is doing that, that is a red flag.

Rebecca: Well, because even if this is some guy who wants to have sex, that just reads a little bit too much like one of those creepy to catch a predator things that everyone watched.  Like Chris Hanson, right?  That’s his name.  Yeah.  Or boy.  The way that the dudes would talk.  It just sounds like that.  I’m not saying—but I’m saying these women are writing this book, and this clearly did not actually happen this exact way.  

Johnna: Or if it did, that’s freaking weird.  It’s so weird.  The point of this is not that she was two faced.  It’s that there’s a weird little kid in your youth group saying he wants to take girls’ virginity.  That’s really weird.  

Sheila: And they’re not talking about something, which is a huge issue among teenage girls right now, which is the problem of being pressured to send—to sext and to send nude photos or whatever or explicit photos or whatever it might be in order to keep a guy’s attention.  This is such a huge problem.  The police are constantly going into schools giving talks about how you shouldn’t give in to that.  Please don’t give in to that.  Please report it.  Please tell your parents.  Please tell your teachers if someone asks you to do this.  Solicits these things.  They don’t mention any of that.  This is such a huge area of danger for kids, and they’re not talking about it.  Instead they give a scenario, which is very much looking like it could be a grooming behavior thing, and talk about it in a totally different way and ignore what could be happening there.  I just find that scary.

Johnna: Why would we not be like, “Hey, a lie that you’re believing is that you have to send sexually explicit messages to boys to be loved”?  That’s a lie that you’re believing if you think that that’s how you have to act to be loved.  That’s a lie.

Rebecca: Or a lie that you’re believing is that all boys want to have—all boys fantasize about taking someone’s virginity because I will say, as someone who was raised in that thing, the idea of some guy texting you saying, “Yeah.  I want to be the one that takes your,”—that’s totally normal.  Genuinely.  In this subculture, when virginity is fetishized so much, it’s absolutely something I could totally believe that kind of thing.  The whole point though is that it’s still creepy even if it’s normal.  And so if we teach girls the lie is that all boys just want your virginity and this is a thing that guys like and your job—that’s the lie to warn girls about.  About this idea that boys will be boys.  Not the lie being the lies that you were two faced.  I will say the ironic logical conclusion of the problem being that she’s two faced—if she was just overtly sexual everywhere, it would be fine because the problem is that she was a hypocrite.  If she’s just like, “I’ll have sex anywhere anytime any person,” they’d be like, “Well, she’s consistent.”  By their own logic, that is better.

Sheila: Yeah.  I mean, to be fair, they do have other lies that you believe about how you should be having sex, which—  

Rebecca: The problem is not the two faced.  The problem is that this is someone who is engaging in potentially dangerous sexual activity.  

Sheila: Yeah.  And they do say—they talk about sexting as an area of bondage for girls.  But sexting, when it happens among teenagers, so often is a grooming and abusive thing, and they don’t say that.  Sexting is even often initiated by adult men towards teenage girls, by youth pastors towards teenage girls.  And so you should be warning girls about this instead of telling them that they are in sin for sexting because a girl who is in that kind of a relationship that’s just going to make her feel shameful and push it underground instead of saying, “Hey, you need to get help in these situations.”  

Rebecca: Yeah.  And also recognizing that if you’re—if it’s not an abusive situation, if it’s just two peers, it’s also really cringe, guys.  You’re fifteen.  You’re going to look back on it and be like, “Oh no.”

Johnna: It’s also, if there’s pictures involved, illegal.  

Rebecca: That’s the next thing I was going to say.  That’s the next thing I was going to say.  Yep.  Exactly.

Sheila: Yeah.  But the way that they handle consent or fail to handle consent, I should say, is throughout the book.  There is not a single word in here about date rape.  There is not a single—except to say not to entice the boys by the sexual allure of your body or something which, again, is blaming her for whatever he might do.

Rebecca: We talk about this so much in She Deserves Better.  So if you are interested in more about talking about consent in a healthy way and how books have handled it badly, please do check out She Deserves Better because we really do get into it there about what we can do better instead as well.  But this book just did a terrible job.

Sheila: Yeah.  They talk about if you are pressured to have sex and then you gave in and then how you need to then get out of all the volunteer activities you’re doing in the church because you’re not worthy anymore and you need to figure out if you’re really saved.  And they don’t talk about the fact that if you’re pressured to have sex it may not have been that you gave in.  It may have been a case of date rape.  

Rebecca: Mm-hmm.  Also giving in is not typically the enthusiastic yes that’s necessary for consent, right?  I think one of the things you’re saying is like I guess is not a yes, right?

Sheila: Yeah.  So okay.  So that’s a big picture of what we want to talk about.  But is there anything else that you really want to say?  Because I know this has been a long one, but I hope people have listened and hung in there.  Thank you, if you have hung in there with us.  We just want this book to be taken out of circulation and not used anymore.  So any final thoughts, Johnna?

Johnna: Get that book out of your youth groups.  And yeah.  I would just echo—they are consistent in fear and shame and control.  And it’s interesting how it changes depending on where you’re at in the book when you’re relying on yourself or relying on God in these instances.  It is confusing, and it’s really, like we said, the building blocks to creating really unsafe spaces for kids and that grow into adults.

Sheila: Yeah.  Yeah.  Exactly.  So please, people, please, please, please, please.  It’s one thing to read Love and Respect as an adult woman.  Yes.  That book is really harmful.  And yes.  We hate it.  But they’re adults.  It’s one thing to read Lies Women Believe in your women’s Bible study because you’re an adult.  Teenagers are not adults.  And the only reason that they would be reading this is because a youth leader or a parent gave it to them.  And so this is on us to stop because this is harmful.  And our girls do not deserve it.  They deserve better.  

Johnna: Mm-hmm.  And I would give this book a thorough trashable—

Sheila: Yes.  Yes.  Exactly.  For those of you who are wondering, Dannah Gresh—in Dannah Gresh’s Secret Keeper Girl curriculum, one of the first exercises she has moms and daughters do is to decide which of their friends are the most trashable.  Yeah.  You’re supposed to divide everybody into—

Rebecca: It’s trashable Styrofoam cups, kind of neutral ceramic mugs, or a priceless china teacup.  

Sheila: Yes.  And so we would agree.  This book is trashable.  Yes.  Do not donate it because then other people will get it.  Please recycle it.  Get rid of it in some other way.  Make a nice paper wreath out of it.  There’s all kinds of stuff you can do.  But yeah.  Don’t donate it.  So thank you.  Thank you for being here, Johnna.  

Johnna: Thank you for having me.

Sheila: Tell us about Bodies Behind the Bus and where people can find you.  

Johnna: You can find us anywhere that podcasts are.  You can find us at bbtpod on Instagram.  And we tell firsthand stories of abuse within mostly western evangelical organizations.  Acts 29 is one of the main ones that we do.  Southern Baptist Convention.  And lately, a lot of parachurch organizations.  Stories have been coming from out of there.  So if you’re interested in hearing how some of the things we talked about today are manifesting in the lives of people as they have grown and gone into ministry or gone into ministry contexts, you’re going to hear a lot of the same themes in the stories that you hear on Bodies Behind the Bus.

Sheila: Yeah.   Great podcast.  And we will put a link to that and to your social media in our podcast notes.  So thank you, Johnna.

Johnna: Thank you, guys.

Sheila: All right.  That was a long one.  Thank you for hanging in with us.  And thank you for joining us.  Please share the one sheet.  Download it.  Share it with other people.  Email it to your pastor.  Just get it out there.  

Rebecca: Check your church library.  See if Lies Young Women Believe is there.  And if it is, get it removed.  Get rid of it.

Sheila: Yes.  Because we can make a difference.  We can make sure that the next generation isn’t as affected by this stuff as Millennials were.  Millennials really got the short end of the stick.  And we need to stop, and we can stop.  And we can focus on Jesus, not Satan.  So let’s all do that in our churches.  So thank you for joining us.  Thank you to our sponsor, the book The Sex Talk You Never Got, which is kind of the other side of purity culture.  So thank you for that.  We will put the link to that in the podcast notes as well.  So see you again next week.  Bye-bye.

Rebecca: Bye.

Written by

Sheila Wray Gregoire


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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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What if purity culture didn’t just steal sexual health from women, but stole it from men too? What does it mean for a man to have healthy sexuality? Today licensed counselor Sam Jolman joins us for The Sex Talk You Never Got. He's got an amazing new book out that...


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  1. Angharad

    I heard someone talking about spotting fake antiques, and they said that while there are a few key signs to look out for, the best way of recognising a ‘wrong ‘un’ is to become so familiar with the genuine article that any fake just feels ‘off’.

    It seems to me that some Christians could do with taking a leaf out of that book. Instead of spending hours and hours and hours talking about the different ways the devil might try to attack you, spend time getting to know Jesus. Because the more you know Him, the more you are likely to spot any message that doesn’t come from Him because it will sound ‘off’ when compared to the truth.

    Of course, sometimes it is appropriate to discuss spiritual warfare – it is a thing, and Christians need to be taught to recognise it. But mostly, we just need to know Jesus better.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I completely agree. The emphasis on Satan was just really off to me. Once you truly know the person of Christ, so much of this makes no sense at all.

      • Leia Wileur

        The part of the podcast that was absolutely a pivotal point was around 1:16 where Rebecca is talking about the authors possibly having abuse themselves happening because they talk so normally about it. I can say this is correct. When you are raised in abusive situations you don’t know any other norm until you are confronted with the disgust and abhorrence others reactions are to your trauma. It’s the same thing when it comes to Danah’s book that says an 8 yr.olds stomach is intoxicating for men. This ability to be able to write those words out and print them as normal is a major red flag of her own trauma. Trauma victims don’t always know that the sickness they were raised in isn’t everyone else’s sickness. It’s very scary to realize you actually have a story tht is repulsive and didn’t have any way to get out. If I had read this part about going to the father and forgiving him I would have believed it because of the whole honoring your mother and father message and I would have followed it because of the religious OCD I had but didn’t know it. Confession is a major part of that type of compulsive behavior. So this is very twisted and woven into our trauma and beliefs… And unfortunately it does show me that these authors are telling on themselves and families. Thankfully I’m on a path of healing and am not “honoring” my parents by walking towards the abusers and saying I forgive. I’m allowing the healing process and I appreciate so much all the content you all cover and the straight forward way of calling out harm. Leia

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I thought that point Rebecca made was so sad too! But i totally agree with you–how can someone write that about 8-year-olds and not realize how awful it sounds?

    • Jane Eyre

      I love this. Spending time with the real thing makes the fake thing seem off. True of so much: healthy families, good friends, not toxic workplaces.

    • JB

      Weirdly enough, there is a part in the book (I first read it when I was 12) that talks about recognizing a real vs. fake artifact (in this case, a kouros statue). They talk about how archaeologists eventually found the statue in question to be fake, because they knew what real ones looked like. This is near the beginning of the book. They’re hijacking kids’ reasoning skills and enforcing the doublethink and doublespeak right from the start.

  2. Nessie

    Do you know if you will post a second youtube video with the second half of the interview/episode? It cuts off at 51:39minutes.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that’s so weird! Okay I’ll check.

  3. Amy G.

    Why do the people that write these books seem to think Satan is an evil God? Like they exaggerate satan to be as powerful as God. As if a finite creature could target 8 billion humans at the same time. God is bigger. Trust in Jesus and you don’t have to worry about the devil.

    • Marina

      I swear that the whole “blame everything on Satan” thing comes from people not caring to study their own faith. You don’t need a degree in theology to at least learn a good foundation. I guess it’s easier to have a boogyman, instead of having to think about what might actually be causing issues.

  4. Jen

    It’s interesting to think about the kinds of people who would be susceptible to the damaging messages like the ones in Lies Young Women Believe. It’s obviously not every Christian because you, Rebecca, said that your healthy family system set you up to see through this book. I’m thinking about how I was set up to believe the exact things this book taught (and much of the set up was just secular culture).
    I was taught that relationship repair was always my responsibility, even if I wasn’t the one who broke the relationship. My older brother was very abusive (think Oppositional Defiant Disorder level), and I took the brunt of his acting out, including repeated sexual assault and full on rape. While my parents didn’t know about the sexual stuff (good girls don’t tattle), they saw the rest (broken nose, dart in the back, constant bullying, etc.). How did my father advise me? “If he started it, you stop it.” And we had to “make up” after every incident they witnessed, even though he was never Biblically repentant. It was so easy for me to move into the Evangelical church as an adult and believe all of these things because they absolutely lined exactly up with my lived experience and teachings.

    Now, the books you’ve been discussing were written when I was an adult, so I wasn’t exposed to them as a child, but my point is that my previous teaching set me up to act out these principles and to think I was following God. Guess what? I married a super scrupulous, isolating sex addict who abused and neglected me for 30 years, yet I continued to pursue him because I thought it was my job to make the relationship work. I didn’t know he was cheating and lying, but I knew he ran from our relationship on a daily basis. Who’s to blame for his behavior? Me, of course – Not the man who was doing every anti-relational thing possible.

    It is heartbreaking to see and live out the fruits of these teachings. I cannot get back the 50+ years of living abused, but I’m thankful to have this ministry’s constant reminder that the problem wasn’t me. The truth does heal – YOU ALL are the ones discussing the lies women believe, and you’re telling the truth. I’m thankful for the work you’re doing to save those coming up behind me.

    You’ve talked about the possibility of some of these authors having been abused themselves, and that really makes sense. They are teaching out of their lived experiences, too. So much pain.

    • JoB

      I am so, so sorry you had to endure that, both the abuse and lack of protection from your parents. That is so wrong and awful.

  5. Nessie

    Agree- the message “I may not really be saved,” was really what I took away from women who read this and similar books/same author. Anytime I shared doubts or worries or struggles, I was told that I needed to take a hard look at if I was truly saved. It wasn’t just that the women who read it thought it- they tried to make those around them think it, too.

    I wonder if the author will ever consider that her message of shame may have largely contributed to the mental health struggles so many girls have gone through and whom they are condemning?

    Sometimes “honoring” your father means getting him reported so he goes to jail or gets professional help so he can stop sinning against God and his daughters, etc. Their take is so dangerous!

    If Jake wants to take Sadie’s virginity (instead of saying he wants to have sex with her) then he needs a lot of therapy! That is predator language.

    Rebecca is absolutely right- it would have been great to hear that not all boys are like that- both for the girls AND for the boys! Unfortunately where I grew up, if a guy was hetero but not actively pursuing sexual activity he was very harassingly labelled gay by other guys. I wonder if some of the guys in my area who would have behaved in a healthy way instead adopted toxic behaviors because they were trying to disprove the “gay” label? (Please don’t hate on me for how I’m phrasing this- I’m doing my best to describe what the culture was at that time and place.)

    This is all just so disturbing. I can’t believe this junk is still being peddled so actively.

    • Jane King

      Not only is the junk still being peddled it is a multimillion if not billion dollar industry. There is gold in them there hills. All you got to do is sell out your fellow sisters in the process.

  6. Jules

    Thank you for addressing these concerning ideas that are being presented to adolescent girls as “truths”.

    I especially appreciate that you tackled what is a very unhelpful outlook on emotions. It seems that within certain sects of the evangelical church, actual problems are ignored while a persons emotions – or the desires causing the emotions – often referred to as ones idols – are made out to be the problem.

    I’m concerned that this nuanced “idol” theology that seems to be in so many sermons, books, etc. has gotten out of hand as it makes all good desires into idols. It seems to say that you must be turning away from God and towards an idol of love, security, comfort, etc. if you should dare to have negative emotions toward ongoing problems. What a horrible thing to tell someone who is already hurting that their emotions are a sign that they are not worshipping Jesus.

    Yes, we need to look to Jesus who will one day set all things right, and Jesus needs to be a part of our solution (and a part of all of our life) but why shame people for feeling sad, or mad, or whatever over things that quite frankly should make us sad, mad, etc. and in some cases over circumstances that people actually could change for the better if they had proper counsel and help rather than shame and gaslighting.

    • KJ

      Several years ago, when my daughter was a toddler, we enjoyed watching Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. But my sister (who has a son the same age as my daughter) took great offense at one of the songs where it said “If you don’t get what you want, stomp three times to help yourself feel better.” We were raised believing anger was a sin…one of my books growing up suggested punching a pillow if you were mad, but I was told in no uncertain terms that being angry was a sin. So even having a song like that – that gave a finite, controlled way to express and release frustration – was problematic for my sister. (And apparently for others…as the show then edited the song to say “take a deep breath” or something instead of stomping, though the video still showed kids stomping three times when they were told no.)

    • Nessie

      I’m trying to reframe a lot of the negatives I previously believed which brings me to trying to imagine NLDW telling Jesus He was not trusting in God enough when He wept over Lazarus’ death and how sinful that was…

  7. Jo R

    Wow, there are people who feel better after reading the Bible?

    That’s not been my experience, ever.

    Thanks for the term “religious scrupulosity,” very helpful and apparently what my entire Christian life has been (trusted Christ at age 21, with my 37th “spiritual birthday” a week from today). Well, assuming I ***am*** a Christian. 🙄 Maybe I’m not, actually…

    • Nathan

      I assume that you’re a Christian, just maybe not by the Eggy/Driscoll/Piper (etc. too many to list) standard…

      But then again, neither am I!

    • Marina

      *Sends gentle hugs* Yeah, I struggle with reading the bible to a degree as well for similar reasons. Sometimes I think that, as much as some teachers insist on having a secure relationship with God, they also constantly push self examination. “Are You Saved?” “Are you truly devoted to God?” “Are you sure?” “Are you sure you’re sure?”
      I mean, my Baptist church has a “revival” every year. I’m never really sure how much is actually helped by it, although I suppose at least it helps 1 or 2 people “rededicate their lives to Christ” (not sure how those pan out long term, though). I’m not really sure what helps, other than I find the Psalms mostly “safe”. Also, I know the Catholic church has some good documentation of Scrupulosity and how to handle it. This issue has been recognized on their side for centuries under different names. I wonder sometimes if different personalities are more vulnerable or more resilient to this thinking.

      • TR

        I suspect OCD is running around undiagnosed for a lot of church members. It was for me. And these teachings make it grow pretty quickly

    • Nethwen

      Yeah, I think people forget, or refuse to accept, that the Bible, by nature, is a difficult text to read. I don’t know why we think that doing something intellectually challenging is a sure-fire way to ease our emotional distress. I came to the point where I decided that God gave us the ability to tell stories and that if reading fiction helped me feel better, that was honoring to God because I was using what he provides. I don’t mean hide from reality by reading novels. I mean that by reading fiction, my emotions regulate, and then I can pray or deal with the issue or do whatever needs to be done. I don’t see that as running away from God. I see it as using the tools God provides so that I can draw closer to God.

  8. Nathan

    >> Instead of being told, “God loves you and is with you and wants to comfort you in your troubles,” girls are told,
    >> “what’s wrong that you don’t believe that God is with you and wants to comfort you?
    >> If you don’t believe that, you’ll give Satan a foothold!”
    >> I hope you see the difference.

    To me, it seems that the second one is teaching girls that it’s wrong to have doubts and confusion, and that unless you’re perfect RIGHT FROM THE START, Satan will control you

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, very much so.

    • Lisa Johns

      Yeah, “Get it right, even when you are nothing more than a child, or you will lose God’s pleasure in you!” *No pressure!*
      I lived this attitude since I was a child, and it has made a lot of hell in my life. I am glad to be working free of it.

  9. Lisa Johns

    The part about “moving toward” and forgiving sexual abusers infuriates me. Years ago when I was trying to work through and process the sexual abuse that had been perpetrated against me, there was a man who told me, “You just need to learn to love your daddy.” He and his family, and subsequently the church I became part of, never truly acknowledged the fact that my relationship with my dad was poisoned by his actions, nor that my mixed emotions were a reasonable result of them, and I was basically told that *I* was the one in sin if *I* didn’t repair the relationship. This had the effect of shutting down my very good instincts for several decades, and I am only now beginning to deal with that trauma again.
    I am so tired of the church’s BS about forgiveness and its unhealthy attitudes toward victims of sexual abuse! Do better, church people!

  10. Willow

    Ok, “throne before the phone” was hilarious.

    It sounds like the girl really has to use the toilet.

    Don’t these books have editors?!

  11. Willow

    Thought #2: Making everyday things into “Satan’s foothold”: I grew up attending a church school, which was very important to my father, even though the quality of education was terrible – unaccredited teachers and no actual learning taking place (or worse, incorrect information, like the child who popped out of mom’s stomach when mom and dad kissed – that was the “sex ed” video). When I was 11, I went to public school for a year to try it out. My father gave me an envelope to open on the first day of public school. I read it in astonishment – three pages – the most my father ever wrote me then or since – of how the Devil was going to attack me at every corner and I had to resist his onslaught. Then my mother, who taught at that public school, stopped by and introduced me to a girl my age: “Misti is in your class and will introduce you to your teacher.” Misti took me under her wing, made her best friends mine, and we all had a brilliant year – nothing at all like I’d experienced at the cliquish-to-the-point-of-violence church school I’d attended. I carefully set aside my father’s bizarre letter.

    Thought #3: Making children scared their faith will suddenly vanish if they don’t work hard enough: We need to re-emphasize 2 Timothy 1:9, which says of God, “who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace that was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began.” We were saved before time began – before the first person sinned, we were already saved. That beautiful blanket of grace forever covers us!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      great thoughts!

  12. KT

    Love the podcast. Just a thought It would be good to call religious scrupolosity an OCD sub type on here. As someone who has it and found out late in life, this disorder is easily hidden in evangelical circles as just extra piety. Yall do great work; if yall call it out by name, OCD, you could help countless people realize they may have it.

    There’s a statistic that people with OCD take 17 years before getting diagnosed. I bet that’s true for Christian circles as well.

    Personally I know these kind of teachings from ROH made my OCD more difficult. You guys helped me get free from a lot of those lies actually so very grateful to yall!

    Marissa Frank Burts also has some great stuff on OCD and nouethic counseling which to me is pretty much what LiesWomenBelieve is about.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, very true!

  13. Angie

    Have you done a review of Tommy Nelson’s Song of Solomon? If so, can you refer me to the episode? Thank you!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      No, I haven’t looked at that yet!

  14. Terri

    I went through this book in 2018 with the church high school girls when I served as a leader the last two years of my daughter’s high school. Some of it was off to me, particularly the part of a girl’s “highest calling” is to be a wife and mother. But, now that I hear you talk about it and articulate the issues so clearly, I can’t believe I didn’t pick up on this. Makes me very sad and I wish I had known all this back then.

    It does make sense when you understand the author’s theology. This kind of teaching is the fruit of Calvinism, reformed theology, at least the kind our old church practiced. Same as MacArthur and Piper, Paul Washer, and others. If Nancy holds to theistic determinism (which i assume she does) then all things that happen have been ordained, planned, decreed by God, including the death of her father. It’s how they interpret God’s sovereignty: God meticulously controlling and planning everything that happens on earth, including the sinful things, yet they argue, He is not the author of evil. Nothing happens outside of God’s will. It can seem like just a harmless theology on soteriology, but it has detrimental ramifications.

    Oh, and the part about questioning whether you are truly saved? I saw this all the time in youth group with our pastor. So frustrating, yet I couldn’t put my finger on why there was always such a heaviness to his talks, like where is the JOY?? It’s because he holds to the doctrine of unconditional election, the “U” in T.U.L.I.P. (God chooses before the foundation of the world who will or will not be saved). So, some of those teenagers might not be the “elect.” You can’t really have assurance of salvation, because how do you know you’re truly elect? By works. The works have to accompany your profession of faith. No good works or righteous living to “prove” your faith, then maybe you’re not really saved. How sad is that? He never wanted to give these teenagers assurance because they could be false converts. It was always, “How’s your heart?”, “How’s your walk? Are you experiencing radical transformation?” I was a 48 yr old woman who’d been a Christian for 40 years and he made me feel guilty! “For God’s glory” was his favorite phrase. Be aware of stealth Calvinism. The pastors are subtle about bringing in the teachings, they use the same vocabulary, but with different meanings. And it’s been making a come-back again in the last decade.

    Thankfully, my daughter and her group of youth group friends can commiserate over the messed up teachings they received. And I’ve been there to validate her and share with her all these things we’ve now learned, but it certainly impacted her, and not in a good way. I will give the one page print out to anyone I know who talks about this book. Thank you!!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Wow, Terri, thanks for sharing your story! Honestly, I only know about this type of theology from my work online. I’ve never really been a part of these circles. And the more I hear about it, the sadder it gets. I didn’t realize that was a lot of the issue–you never could be sure if you were one of the elect! Wow. That’s so heavy!

    • Jules


      Thank you very much for sharing. I’ve been in reformed circles for most of my adult life and I agree with your analysis of how the reformed theology causes a lot of problems.

      I have seen the election issue play out very poorly first hand with someone in my family who had struggled quite a lot with whether or not he was chosen (thankfully he seems to have worked through that while hanging onto his faith in Jesus).

      I think that along with the “U”, the “T” in TULIP – total depravity – has caused a lot of problems…in my experience this theology has really been the catalyst for things like sin leveling, victim blaming, labeling all emotions sin, etc.

      We just moved and are currently looking for a new church. It seems very difficult to find a church that is not reformed (maybe it’s due to the region in which I live)…If you found your way out, I’m curious what denomination of churches you’ve found to be non-reformed and healthy. Would appreciate your input.

  15. Terri

    yes it can be hard to find a good church. I like to read their statement of faith online, and if they don’t have one then I ask when I go. I can’t sit under a pastoral leadership again that does not believe that Jesus wants and desires a saving relationship with EVERY person on earth. Leighton Flowers’s soteriology 101 channel on youtube is amazing at pointing out the logical inconsistencies with Tulip.

    Pray and ask the Lord to guide you to the right one. It’s challenging. I have felt disenchanted with church the last few years. A lot of churches are either reformed or watered-down seeker sensitive mega churches. I know there’s no perfect church that has all the right perfect doctrine. Have to decide what are the nonnegotiables. I just want community and friendship with solid teaching, a place where friendships can be made, a place where “[some people] know my name.” 😅

    • Lisa Johns

      Speaking of TULIP, the thing that stands my hair on end is “Limited atonement.” Seriously? Jesus died for a *limited* population? Really?

      And, does anyone else think of the N.I.C.E. when they read that acronym?


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